Philadelphia Daily News writer Kram explores the complicated relationships among family, love, duty and assisted suicide.

During a football game in a small Pennsylvania town in 1973, Buddy Miley, an 18-year-old quarterback with plenty of athletic promise, suffered a devastating accident that  left him a quadriplegic. In 1997, with the help of his younger brother Jimmy, Miley died at the hands of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Kram poignantly tracks the family’s emotional struggles following the accident. The author first met Miley in 1993 after Miley’s mother Rosemarie wrote a protest letter to Sports Illustrated after New York Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd suffered a spinal injury in a game. She decried football’s glamorization of violence and wondered if the NFL should “donate some of its profits to aid research into spinal cord injuries.” Kram’s editor urged him to visit Miley, sensing he might find a local angle to what had become a national debate on spinal-cord injuries. By the time the two men met, Miley had spent nearly 20 years, or “better than seven thousand days,” unable to care for himself. Rosemarie assumed the bulk of responsibility for her son’s care. “With no appreciable help from her husband,” writes Kram, “Rosemarie had soldiered on with the help of her other now-grown children.” Worried about his aging mother and his own deteriorating condition, Miley began contemplating suicide. Kram deftly reveals the intimate details of the story, and he delves into the complex and troubled Miley family dynamics with a skilled reporter’s eye. A heartbreaking story of love and dedication told with remarkable compassion and literary skill.  


Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-65003-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012


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


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