A visceral reminder of war’s intimate slaughter.

MOURNING HEADBAND FOR HUE

AN ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE FOR HUE, VIETNAM 1968

Anguished eyewitness account of the devastation visited upon the civilian Vietnamese population just a month before the massacre of My Lai.

The author was a well-known South Vietnamese poet and novelist then living with her husband and children in Saigon. She was caught in the middle of the Vietcong’s Tet Offensive in early 1968 when she received news that her father had just died and promptly traveled to her native town of Hue, in central Vietnam, for the burial service. The next day, the Communists shelled the Buddhist town, terrorizing the population and waging horrific battles with the combined South Vietnamese Nationalist and American forces over many weeks. The author’s narrative burns with firsthand accounts, her own and those of others who shared their stories, as they all were trapped in blasted houses, churches and makeshift shelters, wounded, starving, sick and overrun by the Communists and their squads of vengeful executioners. In an extensive introduction, the translator of this important work, first published in 1969, just over a year after the horrific events it chronicles, sets up the significance of the large-scale Tet Offensive for the Vietcong, who hoped the South Vietnamese would rise up and support them; the Communists were eventually driven back by the Nationalists and the Americans, leaving thousands dead and unaccounted for. Yet the author’s work speaks for itself; it’s a searing first-person account of the misery of war visited upon her family, neighbors and countrymen, caught in senseless, chaotic horror. The author does not portray the Americans as saviors; rather, in her narrative, they are young, clueless and, in many instances, scornful of this “small yellow-skinned nation” they know little about and so calloused to the sanctity of life that they amuse themselves by shooting at dogs.

A visceral reminder of war’s intimate slaughter.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-253-01417-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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