Affecting letters bearing witness to human rights abuses.



A collection of the author’s touching letters written over six months to her father, who was imprisoned in Tehran for expressing his political views.

In 2001, when Rafiee’s father, Hossein, a chemistry professor at the University of Tehran, was arrested for the first time by the Iranian Revolutionary Court agents and imprisoned, she gave him a cache of letters upon his release six months later. Her father was deeply moved by the letters, which he had not received in jail, and urged her to publish them. At the time, the author was a 17-year-old about to graduate high school and too shy to pursue the project. However, when Hossein was jailed again in 2015 on similar charges of membership in an illegal organization and “propagating falsehoods in order to agitate the public mind and government officials with the intent of conveying the State as inefficient,” she resolved to confront what she and her father considered a violation of human rights. Seized mysteriously at a meeting of a pro-democracy political coalition on March 11, 2001, the author’s “Baba” was whisked away into solitary confinement, perhaps in the notorious Evin Prison—though the family, consisting of the author, her brother, Mohammad, a university student, and her stalwart though ailing mother, were not apprised of his whereabouts. During the next few months, she and her mother besieged the court, along with other bereft wives, to demand access to their vanished husbands, finding strength in organization and activism. While her mother confronted the newly re-elected president, Mohammad Khatami, the author recognized her role as a historian, documenting what she saw and heard, and she sent a letter to the U.N. Commissioner of Human Rights. She also resolved to pursue a career as an activist doctor. Although her grades suffered and she was single-mindedly anxious about her father’s condition, Rafiee ultimately embraced her political education.

Affecting letters bearing witness to human rights abuses.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60801-161-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: UNO Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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