“I was the luckiest woman in the world,” insists the author in this revelatory and deeply moving memoir that clearly shows...

SUCH A PRETTY GIRL

A STORY OF STRUGGLE, EMPOWERMENT, AND DISABILITY PRIDE

From pity to empowerment, a woman who contracted polio as a baby illuminates her personal changes in attitude and accomplishment amid sweeping societal changes in rights for the disabled.

As a child in Sicily, LaSpina struggled with her family to understand the disease. Was it a sign of the family’s sin, and was she the cross they had to bear? Was it her destiny? If so, was she destined to be single and celibate? A nun or an old maid? Her father didn’t think so; he moved the family to America, hoping that better medical care would provide a miracle cure. The author found herself in hospitals with other children who had mobility issues and other diseases. She underwent a series of painful surgeries, intending to be able to walk and leave behind the wheelchair she had learned to love. Ultimately, she did walk, with braces and crutches, but she kept falling, breaking bones and complicating her life. She wanted to please her father, who had focused the family’s life and resources on enabling her to walk. Yet she was also becoming part of an activist movement that stressed acceptance and independence. Once feeling so insular, alone, and helpless, LaSpina, who created and taught courses in disability studies at the New School, began to feel “good to belong, to be part of something. I wasn’t sure what that something was, but I knew I wanted to be part of it.” Her memoir encompasses activism, civil disobedience, and legislation that would help move disability from the realm of disease requiring treatment (and eliciting pity) to respect, acceptance, and equal protection under the law. The author also addresses sexuality and romance, showing how she discovered that her life need not be limited as it once seemed destined to be.

“I was the luckiest woman in the world,” insists the author in this revelatory and deeply moving memoir that clearly shows how and why she came to feel that way.

Pub Date: July 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61332-099-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: New Village Press

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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