A poignant account with an optimistic conclusion, if not a happy ending.

HENRY'S DEMONS

LIVING WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA: A FATHER AND SON'S STORY

One family’s struggle against the ravages of schizophrenia.

Award-winning Independent Iraq correspondent Patrick Cockburn (Muqtada Al-Sadr and the Battle for the Future of Iraq, 2008, etc.) and his 26-year-old son Henry, a diagnosed schizophrenic, collaborate to tell the story of battling an acute mental illness. In 2002, Henry was a British college student who appeared to be happily launched on an artistic career until—without any obvious precipitating cause—he began to hear voices that prompted him to endanger his life by wandering naked in winter, plunging into icy water and engaging in other dangerous activities. Believing that he was undergoing an exhilarating religious experience, he avoided taking anti-psychotic medications and engineered daring escapes from the various mental institutions where he was being held in protective custody against his will. The author writes movingly about the harrowing times faced by the family as they awaited his recapture, fearful for his life and safety. Henry recounts his experiences on the run, hooking up with a variety of street people and sometimes simply wandering through fields getting battered and bruised, facing hunger and inclement weather. Although his grandmother suffered from depression, there is no known family history of schizophrenia. A heavy user of marijuana in his teens, he describes his life during adolescence as “a sort of haze.” His parents had tolerated his marijuana use, believing the drug to be “fairly harmless,” and only learned during his hospitalization of “its possible devastating impact on somebody genetically predisposed to schizophrenia.” By 2007, Henry had come to terms with the realities of his situation and accepted medication. In 2009, his condition had stabilized sufficiently to allow him to move to a rehabilitation unit in a London suburb, an institution that offered greater personal freedom, although he still contends with hallucinatory experiences.

A poignant account with an optimistic conclusion, if not a happy ending.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4391-5470-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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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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