A congested but nevertheless in-depth investigation of an overlooked war and the types of people drawn to it.

Searching for Barton Carter

From debut author Clough comes a historical biography of an American’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

Born in New Hampshire to a prominent family, Barton Carter seems to have had a happy childhood of New England excursions, good schooling, and genial family relations—“His parents and siblings adored him, and they knew they could always depend on him, regardless of the circumstances.” After attending Williams College and securing a job at “a conservative investment bank and private equities firm” in London, one might think Carter would have settled down to a comfortable life abroad. After a visit to Spain, however, he finds a country in a state of upheaval. It’s 1936, and the Spanish Civil War is escalating. Journeying to Barcelona, where various anti-Fascist groups seem in high spirits, Carter notes that “practically every other man was a militiaman.” He finds that “in just two weeks, the people of Spain had transformed him.” Beginning with a job driving a truck for the nonpolitical National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, the book follows Carter’s involvement with his new calling and the many atrocities of war that surround him. But, as his sympathy for the Republican cause increases, how long will he resist the role of a combatant? At its best when detailing the heavy fighting of the later days of the war, Carter’s quest takes on a bleak quality that illustrates the eventual hopelessness of the cause. Likewise, later chapters detailing the author’s own quest to tell Carter’s story are full of intrigue, not the least of which involves a visit to a medium. Forced dialogue—“Hello. I’m Bart Carter. I’m from America and am working as a truck driver for the NJC”—may cause attention to wander in early portions. The payoff, however, is a standout tale of a brave young man’s determination to participate in history, no matter how sad the eventual conclusion.

A congested but nevertheless in-depth investigation of an overlooked war and the types of people drawn to it. 

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-6518-0

Page Count: 816

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 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 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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