A heartfelt and haunting memoir just right for the current political and social climate.

CHILDREN OF THE LAND

An acclaimed Mexican-born poet’s account of the sometimes-overwhelming struggles he and his parents faced in their quest to become American citizens.

Hernandez Castillo (Cenzontle, 2018, etc.) first came to the United States with his undocumented Mexican parents in 1993. But life in the shadows came at a high price. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided their home on multiple occasions and eventually deported the author’s father back to Mexico. In this emotionally raw memoir, Hernandez Castillo explores his family’s traumas through a fractured narrative that mirrors their own fragmentation. Of his own personal experiences, he writes, “when I came undocumented to the U.S., I crossed into a threshold of invisibility.” To protect himself against possible identification as an undocumented person, he excelled in school and learned English “better than any white person, any citizen.” When he was old enough to work, he created a fake social security card to apply for the jobs that helped him support his fatherless family. After high school, he attended college and married a Mexican American woman. He became an MFA student at the University of Michigan and qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed him to visit his father in Mexico, where he discovered the depth of his cultural disorientation. Battling through ever present anxiety, the author revisited his and his parents’ origins and then returned to take on the difficult interview that qualified him for a green card. His footing in the U.S. finally solidified, Hernandez Castillo unsuccessfully attempted to help his father and mother qualify for residency in the U.S. Only after his father was kidnapped by members of a drug cartel was the author able to help his mother, whose life was now in danger, seek asylum in the U.S. Honest and unsparing, this book offers a detailed look at the dehumanizing immigration system that shattered the author’s family while offering a glimpse into his own deeply conflicted sense of what it means to live the so-called American dream.

A heartfelt and haunting memoir just right for the current political and social climate.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-282559-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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