A powerful story of overcoming adversity and finding religion.

LIVING FOR A HIGHER PURPOSE

STORY OF A CITY BOY WHO SURVIVED THE VIET NAM WAR BY LIVING FOR JESUS AND OTHERS

In Vu’s (Lord Jesus, I Want to See…, 2017) biography, a young man flees Communist Vietnam and finds solace in his Christian faith.

Viet grew up in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood, not far from bustling Saigon, which was initially untouched by the disturbances brought to the country by war. But then the bombing campaigns eventually arrived and food rationing became a necessity. Viet’s family, in dire straits, was forced to butcher their beloved dog for food, and to burn paper money for fuel with which to cook. But even after the war concluded, their troubles persisted as the tyrannical Communist regime exacted vengeance upon people who collaborated with the government in the south. When Viet was 5 years old, his father was sent to a labor camp, where he languished under woeful conditions for 12 years. By Viet’s sophomore year in high school, he realized that he would never get full access to educational opportunities, so his parents plotted his escape. Several times, he tried unsuccessfully to flee Vietnam, and once, he ended up in prison. Finally, he was able to find his way out by boat; he survived the threat of pirates and was almost reduced to cannibalism to survive. He was rescued by a South Korean tanker, however, and made his way to Singapore, and then to the United States. There, he was able not only to pursue a college education, but also devote himself to his spiritual life—he eventually became a Catholic priest. Vu’s prose is lucid and unadorned by literary embellishment. Viet’s story is a remarkable one, and it will be impossible for readers not to be gripped by his relentless perseverance. Even more impressively, his spirits rarely seem to sag, no matter what misfortune visits him, and the crux of the tale is not his travails, but the consolations that he finds in his religious faith. Although this is principally a personal remembrance, it also provides a historically fascinating peek into postwar Vietnam; even though the United States was able to eventually extricate itself from the war in 1975, Vietnam’s plight was only just beginning.

A powerful story of overcoming adversity and finding religion.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5816-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 29, 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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