A deftly constructed and tautly told rejoinder to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, sympathetic but also sharp-edged.

THE DESERT AND THE SEA

977 DAYS CAPTIVE ON THE SOMALI PIRATE COAST

A harrowing and affecting account of two and a half years of captivity at the hands of Somali pirates.

“It’s hard to write one adventurous book without thinking about another,” writes Moore early on, recounting his quest, told in Sweetness and Blood (2010), to document how the American fascination with surfing had spread into other parts of the world. Americans and the rest of the world were then fascinated with the pirates making news by marauding off the Horn of Africa, and so the author traveled to witness them firsthand. “The rise of modern pirates buzzing off Somalia was an example of entropy in my lifetime,” he writes, “and it seemed important to know why there were pirates at all.” He quickly learned. Taken captive, Moore learned lessons in the sociology, economics, and psychology of piracy while at the same time enduring some terrible treatment—some of it for show, some of it quite in earnest—as his captors tried to convince his poor mother, and then whomever would listen, to come up with $20 million for his freedom. There’s plenty of gallows humor as Moore settles in for his long spell of unhappiness. When his young captors, “stoned on narcotic cud,” blast music from their cellphones, he asks a senior to get them to turn it down. “They’re soldiers,” he’s told by way of explanation, to which he replies, “ask them to be quiet soldiers.” Imprisoned among a score or so of other captives, mostly Chinese and Filipino, the author discerned that many Somalis turn to piracy for lack of other opportunities, but while “each pirate was here to steal my money,” few were eager to cause him personal harm. Moore’s humane consideration of his captors reflects some of the small kindnesses he was shown, but it also contrasts with the indifference of Western officials who, it seems, would sooner have sent in the bombers than pay the ransom.

A deftly constructed and tautly told rejoinder to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, sympathetic but also sharp-edged.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-244917-7

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper Wave

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 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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