A riveting glimpse of extraordinary measures; ethically speaking, the reader will be the judge.

Single Harness©

A brief, between-the-lines memoir by a former government operative living with memories of covert missions he doesn’t talk about because he’s still sworn to secrecy.

Now approaching 70, debut author Gregory is, by his own account, the sole survivor of 18 elite special team members handpicked by the military and extensively trained in survival techniques, covert action and the lethal arts. Details of what he and his teammates Marlboro and DR did on these missions are necessarily vague, but they seem to have been carried out in the mid to late 1960s into the 1970s in Southeast Asia and in Central and South America. Between missions, Gregory—an Indiana native who dropped out of college to enlist at a time when the war in Vietnam was raging and many in his generation were doing everything they could to oppose it or avoid the draft—became a successful entrepreneur and worked variously as a salesman and business owner. He also emerges as a daredevil, a not-so-merry prankster and a fairly heavy social drinker able to make friends and decisions fast. At his core, though, is a single-harness loner most at home in the wilderness. A subtheme of the book is that it’s impossible to know whether the older guy quietly living next door once did extraordinary things; maybe you don’t really want to know. Readers are also asked to understand that, in Gregory’s case, these things were done for this country and always to the perceived benefit of people elsewhere trapped in horrific circumstances. “We knew without anyone saying it that we would be able to make a difference in the lives of people who no one else could help,” he writes. And if the job was done right, no one would know they had even been there. Gregory has no regrets, he says, but he goes to bed after 3 a.m. to avoid dreams of bad guys and memories of how they looked the moment they realized what was about to happen to them. He’s a strong writer, using Hemingway-esque terseness but also showing a fondness for jocular understatement that barely conceals the violence of which he is capable.

A riveting glimpse of extraordinary measures; ethically speaking, the reader will be the judge.

Pub Date: April 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496900098

Page Count: 130

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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