As multilayered as memory, the book intertwines text, photo, graphic art, and thematic complexity into a revelation almost...

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BELONGING

A GERMAN RECKONS WITH HISTORY AND HOME

A graphic artist of German descent tries to come to terms with her family’s history before she was born.

Not only was Krug too young to have memories of the Nazi era, but her parents weren’t born until 1946. Yet she feels drawn to what happened before, a legacy that amounts to a search for identity, a pilgrimage to the homeland that risks guilt and shame. Neither of her parents seems to know much about their familial Nazi ties or to be inquisitive about learning more. Her father’s brother had died as a teenage Nazi soldier, and their sister and her father had since been estranged. Her maternal grandfather had also served with the Nazis, and the level of his support remained something of a mystery. Krug felt blood ties to her ancestors but had no idea how deeply (or not) they had been entangled. She also felt stigmatized by the common stereotype of her as a German and what this seemed to reflect about her emotions, personality, and overall identity. The narrative is a deeply personal—and deeply moving—dive into national legacy and family history, with more text than most graphic novels and a graphic presentation that mixes documentary photographs, illustrations, and memories that predate the author’s birth. Her obsession takes her from her home in Brooklyn, where she lives with her Jewish husband, to the Germany where her parents were born and raised, in search of documents and testimony. As she gets closer to something that feels like truth, she writes, “I feel a sudden pain, shallow but sharp and all-consuming as a paper cut, because even inherited memory hurts.” Krug’s efforts reunite a family and return to her a lost legacy.

As multilayered as memory, the book intertwines text, photo, graphic art, and thematic complexity into a revelation almost as powerful for readers as it must have been for the author.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-9662-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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