Writing in Adolfo’s voice gives this suspenseful narrative candor and immediacy.

ADOLFO KAMINSKY

A FORGER'S LIFE

A brilliant forger’s 29-year resistance against oppression.

When she was 24, Kaminsky proposed to her 78-year-old father, Adolfo Kaminsky, that she write the story of his life as a forger of documents that saved thousands of lives, beginning with French Jews under Nazi occupation and continuing to include Algerians, anti-Franco activists, and others who fought against “inequality, segregation, racism, injustice, fascism and dictatorships.” He agreed but had one question: “do you know if there’s a statute of limitation?” In her engrossing literary debut, Kaminsky chronicles Adolfo’s career, which began when he was 17, a self-taught chemist who had gained incomparable technical knowledge from working as a dyer. Forged papers saved his own life and those of his father and siblings after they were released from the Drancy concentration camp, and soon he joined the Resistance, proving himself tireless, talented, and inventive. Once his expertise became known, he and a clandestine team were overwhelmed with orders for passports, identity papers, “travel permits, rent receipts, library card, sales slip for a store, bus or cinema ticket, railway ticket,” drug prescriptions, and even crumpled personal letters: in short, “everything a man might carry with him and which, should he be caught, might save his life.” After the war, he worked for a secret network to transport concentration camp survivors to Palestine, and later his forgeries aided freedom fighters in Algeria, Greece, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and across Latin America. Throughout his career, Kaminsky refused to accept payment for his work, believing that taking money would be mercenary: “I’d make working for nothing an absolute principle, for it alone guaranteed my total independence of the networks and kept my commitment incorruptible.” He gave up forgery only when he knew his cover had been blown, requiring him “to vanish into thin air.”

Writing in Adolfo’s voice gives this suspenseful narrative candor and immediacy.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9970034-0-6

Page Count: 230

Publisher: DoppelHouse Press

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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