Despite impressionistic chronology, which occasionally causes confusion and repetition, this is an engaging memoir by a...

ON THE MOVE

A LIFE

The prolific physician’s adventure-filled life.

Sacks (Neurology/NYU School of Medicine; Hallucinations, 2012, etc.) continues where he left off in Uncle Tungsten (2001), the story of his youthful fascination with chemistry. Describing himself as quiet, shy, and solitary, he nevertheless has become a man of many passions: science, medicine, motorbikes, and, for years, assorted drugs, including cannabis, LSD, amphetamines, and chloral hydrate. Sacks writes candidly of his mother’s rage when she learned he was homosexual, and he ruefully recalls several brief love affairs. Sent away from his family during World War II, he believes, caused him to feel inhibited in intimate relationships. But he celebrates many close friendships, notably with fellow physician (and entertainer) Jonathan Miller and poet Thom Gunn, and he offers a touching portrait of his brother Michael, who was schizophrenic. Sacks went to Oxford aiming to become a research scientist, but after one project failed dismally, he followed family tradition and studied medicine (both parents and two brothers were physicians). After working at Middlesex Hospital in England, he took an internship at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, where he fell in love with the lifestyle and landscape, buying a motorcycle and taking to the road every chance he had. “By day I would be the genial, white-coated Dr. Oliver Sacks,” he recalls, “but at nightfall I would exchange my white coat for my motorbike leathers, and, anonymous, wolf-like…rove the streets or mount the sinuous curves of Mount Tamalpais.” By the time he left California in 1965, he had covered 100,000 miles. Sacks loved clinical medicine, vividly evoking his observations and investigations in Awakenings (1973), Seeing Voices (1989), and An Anthropologist on Mars (1995). The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985) made the New York Times bestseller list and, to his surprise, catapulted him to fame.

Despite impressionistic chronology, which occasionally causes confusion and repetition, this is an engaging memoir by a consummate storyteller.

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-35254-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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