Warm and vivid, bursting with life and energy, this is a valentine—but a clear-eyed one—to a particular place and time.

GOLDEN BOY

MEMORIES OF A HONG KONG CHILDHOOD

Marvelously appealing memoir charts an enchanted few years of boyhood in post-war Hong Kong.

Escaping from dreary old 1952 England on a boat bound for Hong Kong, Booth's mother whispered to him “Aren't we the lucky ones?” And they were—their next few years on the island would be marked by such color and life as they'd never seen back in Blighty. Happy chance that Martin's father, an Admiralty civil servant, had been posted there; happier chance that he had a job that kept him out of the house all day, sparing his vivacious, fun-loving wife and intrepid son of his gloomy presence. Booth shares vivid scenes from 50 years ago, of a Hong Kong still slightly sleepy after the war, a place where a boy could wander the teeming streets unaccompanied for countless hours, and run across a cobra or a porcupine in the more rural pockets. Young Martin threw himself into the local culture, going fearlessly as far as his legs would take him—to local markets, mountainsides and even the lawless quarter run by the local mafia, where Booth was taken under the wing of a young thug who revealed their opium dens, brothels and secret meeting rooms, and then made clear what would happen to the boy if he ever told of what he'd seen. Through conversation and friendship with other friendly locals, young Booth also learns about the war, the conflict between the Japanese and the Chinese, the tactics of the communists and the fate of the hustling refugees who filled the Hong Kong streets. The author also learns what kind of a man his father is (not a very nice one), and what a woman of quality his mother is, exploring their relationship from the eyes of the child he was, interpreting it with the knowledge he has now.

Warm and vivid, bursting with life and energy, this is a valentine—but a clear-eyed one—to a particular place and time.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-34817-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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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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