A compassionate chronicle of a couple's last year.



A devoted husband bears witness to his wife’s final illness.

Retired Simon & Schuster editor-in-chief Korda (Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat Into Victory, 2017, etc.) offers a sensitive and absorbing chronicle of his wife’s death from cancer a year after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Joining a growing genre about death and dying that includes Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, Korda’s memoir is both a celebration of his 45-year marriage to his “lover, companion, and best friend” and a cleareyed account of the benefits and limits of medical intervention. Until she was stricken with brain cancer, Margaret Korda seemed invulnerable: a strong, athletic woman who loved the outdoors, rode horses competitively to win five national championships, and, even at the age of 79, retained the beauty and “perfect posture of the fashion model she once had been.” Yet although she was remarkably healthy, the author discloses that she took an assortment of medications to treat depression and anxiety. “She was a perfectionist,” he writes, “hard on herself, she worried about aging, losing her looks, what she would do with herself if she had to give up riding.” Her fears made her wary of doctors, which is why, when she noticed a patch on her cheek, she covered it with makeup rather than have it removed and biopsied. By the time she agreed to remove it, the cancer had begun to spread. After the diagnosis of her brain tumor, Korda took it upon himself to find out as much as he could about the illness and treatment, devouring cancer sites on the internet and parsing medical information, hoping it would help him support Margaret’s treatment. Despite finding an excellent, caring neurosurgeon, the author “struggled with alarm and despondency as I read about what lay in store for Margaret.” He chronicles in detail her yearlong experience of surgeries, therapy, decline, and decision-making as the two learned the extent of her illness and, finally, abandoned “hope, illusions, [and] faith in miracles.”

A compassionate chronicle of a couple's last year.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63149-464-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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