A startling testament of survival.



A disturbing, engrossing memoir of a bizarre, highly abusive childhood.

Psychotherapist Julien makes her literary debut with a gripping chronicle of growing up imprisoned and tormented by her parents. Isolated on a walled estate not far from Dunkirk, Julien was raised to become a “superior being,” destined to “control the weak-minded and bring about the great regeneration of the universe.” Her father, a paranoid, narcissistic conspiracy theorist, “a Grand Master of Freemasonry and a great knight of a secret order,” had adopted and then married Julien’s mother, who assisted in the demanding, cruel regimen that he designed to shape their daughter’s body and mind. They locked her in a dank, rat-infested cellar, forbidding her to move (her mother sewed bells in her sweater to monitor disobedience). They also attempted to quash any signs of love or compassion; Julien had to cage her gentle dog every day, and when her beloved horse died, they made her dig a hole to bury it. Her father bought the horse not as a pet for Julien but to make sure she learned to ride: “just like swimming, riding will be very useful if I need to escape” persecution and also “to be able to get a job with a circus in case I have to hide or go undercover at some point.” They forced her to bathe in their own dirty bathwater: “an honor,” her father said, that “allows you to benefit from my energies when they enter your body.” They refused to summon a doctor when she was ill, and they ignored her being sexually abused by their lecherous handyman. Finally, when Julien was an adolescent, a kind, observant music teacher assessed the situation and contrived to give her lessons at his own studio; he soon hired her to work for him part-time and introduced her to a young man who married her. Although she escaped physically, Julien admits, “being outside wasn’t enough to make me free.” Years of therapy led her to become a therapist herself.

A startling testament of survival.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-46662-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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