Despite the relative shortness of her stint, Duke discerns some of both the truthful kernels and sweeping...

MANDELA, MOBUTU, AND ME

A NEWSWOMAN’S AFRICAN JOURNEY

Reporter Duke, who covered Africa for the Washington Post in the 1990s, sheds her journalist’s mantle to give a personal, emotive account of those extraordinary years.

The images are familiar: the doped and deadly child soldiers; the pervasive corruption, brought to its worst heights by Mobutu; an entire continent rampant with AIDS. But Duke tells the story with vigor, and her chronicling of South Africa’s struggle for political and economic balance, its attempt to find some harmony between the African National Congress’s ideals and globalism’s reality, is a neat and idiosyncratic summation of the decade’s buffeting of that nation. She provides just enough of the surreal encounters (like the “weird Kabuki” of someone obliquely requesting a bribe) waiting in a land strange for those reared in the US, as South Africa, Angola, and the Congo certainly are, even to that rare creature, an African-American, female foreign correspondent. Duke wears her feelings on her sleeve, and they can be as conflicted as the land she is reporting on: she bemoans the absence of Western intervention in Rwanda or Zaire yet knows that such intervention never comes without strings, and she never forgets that “my people, African people, were suffering again. And [that] my people, African people, were the cause.” While she may inflate the effect her articles will have on readers (they’ll “rub people’s faces” in Africa’s travails, she says, while people really need only turn the page for her to vanish entirely), she does provide a glimpse into the shortcomings of today’s foreign correspondents whose “mission wasn’t to put down roots.” One may fairly ask how reporters can truly come to know a place when they rely on intermediaries and retreat each evening to the Intercontinental Hotel.

Despite the relative shortness of her stint, Duke discerns some of both the truthful kernels and sweeping ramifications—economic, political, social, cultural—of what independence has brought to parts of southern Africa.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50398-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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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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