An educational and emotional chronicle that should resonate with a wide variety of readers.

THE INHERITANCE

In her debut, journalist Kapsambelis builds a compelling narrative about Alzheimer’s disease around one North Dakota extended family.

In sections alternating among sagas of specific families, research in medical laboratories, and sweeping explanations of dementia, the author demonstrates beyond doubt that although Alzheimer’s acquired its name in the early 20th century (first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1906), it has devastated human brains for thousands of years. Much of what used to pass for old-age senility has actually been virulent dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is a specific type. A normal path of this abnormal disease starts with inconsistent memory, moves to the loss of motor skills, and culminates in a drawn-out, heartbreaking death phase. Alzheimer’s can rip apart families, often compromising the physical and mental health of the caregivers as well as the patients. Kapsambelis focuses largely on early-onset Alzheimer’s, which sometimes manifests as early as age 35. By focusing on the DeMoe family of rural North Dakota, the author was able to spend time with family members while they were still lucid. When Gail, an accomplished, lively young woman, married her husband, Galen DeMoe, she had no idea he harbored a mutant gene that would doom him and maybe any children they birthed to early-onset Alzheimer’s and excruciating declines. As detection techniques to spot the specific mutant gene progressed, each of the six children born to Galen and Gail had to decide if they wanted to be tested. Some of the six wanted to know quickly, while others delayed. If they carried the mutant gene, they also had to decide if they would risk having children of their own. In addition to clear discussions of the disease’s history and research, Kapsambelis successfully portrays Gail, Galen, and their extended family as fully fleshed individuals.

An educational and emotional chronicle that should resonate with a wide variety of readers.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9722-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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