OUTWITTING THE GESTAPO

A suspenseful rendering of Aubrac's experiences as a French Resistance fighter during WW II. This memoir owes its existence to the 1983 extradition to France of Klaus Barbie, the ``Butcher of Lyon'': In order to refute Barbie's defenders and former collaborators, Aubrac told her story publicly for the first time- -and it became a bestseller in France. Focusing on a nine-month period that begins with the conception of her second child, Aubrac looks back 40 years at experiences of enduring intensity. During the war, the author, her Jewish husband Raymond, and other ``resistants'' published and distributed underground newspapers, found new identities and homes for fugitives, forged permits, stole guns, and blew up roads and bridges—all routine Resistance activities. What makes this account special, however, is Aubrac's irrepressible energy and resourcefulness, and the graceful way in which she interweaves her separate but parallel lives. As a mother and wife struggling in a wartime economy, she bartered for hard-to-find items; as a devoted schoolteacher, she applied the lessons of history to current events; as a secret member of the Resistance, she couldn't disclose her true identity even to her most trusted colleagues, switching names and identities like a quick-change artist. Three times, she helped free her husband from prison. The last incarceration was the most harrowing: Walking into a trap, Raymond was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to die by Barbie himself. Despite her anguish, Aubrac tricked her husband's captors into meetings and masterminded an intricate rescue. The Aubracs' escape by airlift to London, where their baby was born, is tremendously exciting. A breathtaking account that feeds the soul as much as it satisfies the appetite for vicarious danger. (Seven b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: May 28, 1993

ISBN: 0-8032-1029-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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