In this winner of the European Book Prize, Leo not only produces a moving family memoir, but also a probing exploration of...

RED LOVE

THE STORY OF AN EAST GERMAN FAMILY

A prize-winning German journalist’s account of how he revisited his family’s socialist past to find answers about his parents' relationship to him and to each other.

The self-proclaimed “bourgeois” of his family, Berliner Zeitung editor Maxim grew up in East Berlin. His parents, Anne and Wolf, were rebels who often made him wish “they could be as normal as all the other parents I knew.” Part of what made them different was that Anne was from West Germany and Wolf, from the East. Gerhard, Anne’s father, fought with the French Resistance and then returned home after the war to build the East German state. By contrast, Werner, Wolf’s father, was a French prisoner of war who returned home a broken man who found his balm in East German socialism. Following the idealism of her father, Anne developed a desire to “put her life at the service of the [Socialist] Party” and became a journalist like Gerhard. Eventually, she abandoned her career when she could not tolerate the censorship she witnessed or the outright lies she saw published, and she retreated into university life. Yet, however disenchanted she was with the East German state, “she remain[ed] a Socialist deep down.” Wolf had a more openly critical attitude toward prevailing political ideology. An artist, he expressed his opinions through his work, nervously aware of the tightrope he walked between ideological conformity and resistance. When change finally came to East Germany in 1989, Anne was able to distance herself from the “unhappy [socialist] love of her youth” thanks to her academic training. But Wolf “missed the security he had previously found so constricting,” and the “long love and long argument” that had been his marriage to Anne finally came to end.

In this winner of the European Book Prize, Leo not only produces a moving family memoir, but also a probing exploration of the human need to believe and belong.

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-908968-51-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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