Although occasionally too technical, an autobiography with universal appeal.

An Immigrant's Journey into the Cosmos


In Misconi’s (Studies of A Laser/Nuclear Thermal Hardened Body Armor, 1992, etc.) third book, an Iraqi native follows his dream and becomes one of the top space scientists in the United States.

Becoming a space scientist is difficult under any circumstances, but for Misconi, it was even more difficult than usual. A native of Iraq when that country’s space program was in its infancy, Misconi decided at a young age that space science was his career passion, which he pursued with single-minded determination. Today, having worked on such projects as the space shuttle, Skylab, and the Strategic Defense Initiative, or “Star Wars,” he is one of the leading experts in the U.S. on the myriad possibilities and problems in space. The book chronicles the path Misconi took to reach his current orbit. The account of his early years in Iraq is particularly interesting, showing that life in the pre–Saddam Hussein years wasn’t easy either, as when Misconi feared he would get in trouble for merely reporting that an ice sculpture statue of a general was melting. He was then the only astronomer in Iraq, and he recalls doing TV broadcasts with guns pointed at him. After he made his way to the U.S., Misconi’s research was often financed by “soft money” (i.e., grants and such), a precarious position due to the uncertainty of what would happen once the grant expired. While the book is mostly written so that non–rocket scientists can understand it, it doesn’t always qualify as light reading, particularly with sentences like: “The precession of the perihelion of Mercury was not due to the general relativity as Einstein postulated but due to the oblateness of the sun.” Still, following Misconi’s career—from conversing with astronaut Buzz Aldrin to working on high-profile space projects—shows that reaching for the stars isn’t impossible.

Although occasionally too technical, an autobiography with universal appeal.

Pub Date: May 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-6165-6

Page Count: 298

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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 19, 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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