An intriguing adventure story that often doesn’t ring true. Caveat emptor.

THE GIRL WITH NO NAME

THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF A CHILD RAISED BY MONKEYS

The improbable story of how Chapman was kidnapped from her rural Colombian village at the age of 5 and abandoned in the jungle.

According to the tale, pieced together by her daughter, Vanessa James, Chapman adopted monkey ways—eating what they ate, climbing trees and mimicking their calls—until five years later, when she connected with some hunters in the hopes of being returned to her family. Instead, she was left in a brothel on the outskirts of the nearby city. There she was kept in semislavery as a house servant. Gradually, she relearned Spanish and the rudiments of civilized life. Escaping, she fell in with other homeless children and was ultimately taken in by a brutal Mafia family, where she was again reduced to servitude. The book ends when the author, around the age of 14, was rescued by a neighbor's daughter, who offered her a real home in another town. Although ostensibly written as a first-person account by Chapman, the preface by James and the epilogue by novelist Barrett-Lee (One Day, Someday, 2003, etc.) provide a different picture. James explains how she was intrigued by her mother's stories about life among the monkeys and also by the oddity of her own upbringing—for example, having to sit and howl at her mother's feet before being fed. She decided “to piece together mum's tangled memories” about the “magical world” living in the jungle with a tribe of monkeys and the life of a Colombian street child, characterized by “kidnappings, abductions, drugs, crime, murder and child abuse.” Barrett-Lee admits that she was given “a huge, unwieldy document” to work with, which she then scripted.

An intriguing adventure story that often doesn’t ring true. Caveat emptor.

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1605984742

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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