Thoughtfully provocative reading.



The story of a mutually transformative friendship between the author and a black student she met as a Teach for America volunteer in Arkansas.

Kuo (Race, Law, and Society/American Univ. of Paris) knew that her post-college plan to teach underprivileged students “American history through black literature” in the tiny Mississippi Delta town of Helena went against what her ambitious Taiwanese parents wanted for her. Yet the need to obey the dictates of a strong social conscience was stronger than the desire for material gain and success. Once in Arkansas, Kuo quickly discovered that her assignment at an underfunded alternative middle school was far more difficult than she had imagined. Most of her students had never encountered an Asian person before, and in her more disillusioned moments, the author found herself thinking that she was just a “cliché [of the] middle class outsider.” Her friendship with 15-year-old Patrick Browning, a quiet young black man in her eighth-grade class, became her saving grace. Patrick thrived under Kuo’s tutelage, revealing a profound sensitivity and intelligence that moved the young teacher. Acceptance to law school took Kuo to Harvard, where, during the course of her studies, she learned that Patrick was in jail, charged with murder. Desperate to find a way to help her former student, she put off building the legal career she now realized inspired no passion to return to Arkansas. As the author helped Patrick’s lawyer find justice for her client, she visited Patrick—who committed the crime in order to protect a family member—in jail every day. The two read classics by such writers as Frederick Douglass, Derek Walcott, Rita Dove, and Walt Whitman while confronting painful questions about race and belonging. In the process, Kuo helped Patrick come to terms with his troubled past and learn to look toward the future with greater hope. Honest, thoughtful, and humane, Kuo’s book is not only a testament to a remarkable friendship, but a must-read for anyone interested in social justice and race in America.

Thoughtfully provocative reading.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9731-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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