Grippingly provocative reading.



An award-winning journalist tells the story of one man’s struggle with a rare form of bipolar disorder called the Truman Show delusion.

Kevin Hall had it all: intelligence, money, and good looks as well as a deep love of sailing, a sport that defined his identity from boyhood. Hall excelled in school and, under the guidance of his hard-driving father, won many prestigious sailing awards. He then went to Brown University, where he double majored in math and French literature and also qualified to train with U.S. Sailing Team coaches. During his junior year, Hall suffered the first of many psychotic breaks. He also became aware of “The Director,” an illness-born figure that pressed him to do anything from travel out of town to walk into ongoing traffic for “The Show,” an imaginary reality TV broadcast intended for a worldwide audience. Hall finished college but not without facing more demands from the Director, encounters with the police, and stints in mental hospitals. Back home in California, he continued to train with the idea of one day fulfilling his Olympic dreams. Hall also battled to stay on medications he hated and overcome testicular cancer. He eventually married his college girlfriend, made the America’s Cup Team, and participated in the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he finished 11th. Yet, as journalist Pilon (The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, 2015) ably shows, every triumph was laced with struggle and feelings of monumental failure. He also faced the stern judgment of a father who believed his son was not trying hard enough to overcome his illness. After one especially bad manic episode, the elder Hall told his son he had “wasted time and hard-earned money to be part of Kevin’s indulgence.” The narrative, which is interspersed throughout with photos, interviews, and excerpts from Hall’s journals, reads like an in-depth character study of a morbidly delusional man. As it journeys through Hall’s illness, it also forces readers to consider the “sanity” of their own relationship to a media-saturated world.

Grippingly provocative reading.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63286-682-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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 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...


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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