A rich and compelling personal narrative.



Expressive memoirs of a Peruvian-American girlhood, by the editor of the Washington Post Book World.

Arana, daughter of a Peruvian father and an American mother, sees herself as a hybrid, a fusion of Latina and Anglo, embodying both cultures but an outsider in each. Growing up in Cartavio, a W.R. Grace company town on the coast of Peru (where her father was an engineer) in the 1950s, the author was surrounded by native servants who filled the observant and impressionable child with magical legends and tales of fearsome spirits. At the same time, she was being schooled at home by her no-nonsense mother with textbooks ordered from the US. In 1956, when her American grandmother was dying, the family spent three months in Wyoming. There Arana, not yet seven, met her all-American relatives, learned to shoot, chew tobacco, and spit, and encountered racial segregation for the first time. Back in Peru (this time in Lima) and once again a member of the upper class, she fooled the administrator of the American school there into assigning her to the Spanish-speaking classes (where she made fun of the Anglos), but out of school she played American street games with her older brother. In 1959, the family moved to New Jersey, and the author describes herself slipping in and out of her cultural identities there, choosing when to be Peruvian and when to be American. Within this winning portrait of a bicultural childhood are a host of notable characters—the mysterious Peruvian grandfather who stayed in his upstairs room for 20 years, the tradition-bound Peruvian grandmother who ruled the family, the young gardener who taught Arana about her soul, and (most of all) her parents, whose difficult but enduring marriage is at the very center of her story.

A rich and compelling personal narrative.

Pub Date: May 8, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-31962-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

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


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

Did you like this book?