Without a hint of bathos or self-pity, and a pleasure to read for its author’s intelligence, wit, humanity, and conviction.

LIVING PROOF

A MEDICAL MUTINY

A remarkable first-person account of surviving cancer on one’s own terms.

Gearin-Tosh (English/Oxford Univ.) received the news that he had incurable multiple myeloma in March 1994 and for the next year kept a journal of his efforts to research his deadly disease, assess his options, and find a benign treatment regimen. This journal, supplemented by numerous letters to and from doctors, colleagues, and friends, form the basis for the first part of Living Proof. He relates how, after consulting a number of doctors in both England and the US, he opts not to undergo the brutal chemotherapy recommended by orthodox medicine. (“If your friend touches chemotherapy, he’s a goner” was the warning passed along by someone who had consulted Dr. Ernst Wynder on his behalf.) His research leads him to examine alternative medicine therapies, and he adopts a program utilizing Chinese breathing exercises, acupuncture, regular coffee enemas, and a stringent diet that relies heavily on raw fruits and vegetables supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Gearin-Tosh’s fiercely intelligent account ends in 1995, but the second section, which he wrote six years later, sets this apart from the usual cancer-survival narrative. Prefaced by tributes from two physicians, it includes the author’s analysis of the situation cancer patients are likely to find themselves in and his advice to them. He argues persuasively against being rushed into treatment by doctors’ survival statistics, advocates active involvement in one’s own therapy, and urges resistance to the notion that personal temperament or instincts have no place or value in cancer treatment. Also included is a lengthy medical case history, wryly titled “The Case of the .005% Survivor,” written by his doctor and directed to physicians, giving extensive details about his treatment. An afterword directs readers to a Web site where Gearin-Tosh’s medical records will be kept up-to-date.

Without a hint of bathos or self-pity, and a pleasure to read for its author’s intelligence, wit, humanity, and conviction.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-2517-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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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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