Autism is a mysterious neurological condition. While the science is incomplete, Higashida gives us a thoughtful view of the...

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A YOUNG MAN'S VOICE FROM THE SILENCE OF AUTISM

A young Japanese man’s searching account of autism, following The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism (2013).

Higashida, now 24, lives in silence. He cannot speak, but though his condition is of a kind categorized as both nonverbal and severe, he has learned to communicate by way of a keyboard that renders hiragana characters out of Roman letters. As co-translator Mitchell, a noted English novelist whose own son is autistic, writes, it is an arduous way of communicating. He adds, “Naoki’s autism bombards him with distractions and prompts him to get up mid-sentence, pace the room and gaze out the window.” That we have this illuminating book at all is a testament of his extraordinary effort, but there is little by way of self-pity to mark it. Higashida writes with confidence about his many interests, including nature and mathematics, and “the immutable beauties of autism,” and he reckons himself lucky to be wired as he is. People with his condition, he writes, do not seek pity from outsiders, either, but instead the chance to live outside the confines of shunted-off institutions and as independently as possible. “Yes,” he writes, “the neurotypical majority might be more productive than us, but we, too, want to embrace life and be of use to others as best we can.” What people with special needs want and require more than anything else is the same search for meaning that any other person of free will conducts. In a mix of short essays—including the opener, a lovely thank-you note to a mother to whom he has never spoken—Higashida explores aspects of his atypicality, most of it pointing to the fact that he is indeed atypical, indeed unlike most other people, in the depth of his emotional and intellectual strength.

Autism is a mysterious neurological condition. While the science is incomplete, Higashida gives us a thoughtful view of the art of living well in its shadow.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9739-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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