First published in Poland in 2008, this matter-of-fact account is chilling, sobering and memorable.



When a prisoner uprising freed hundreds of Jews from the Nazi death camp at Sobibór, Poland, in 1943, Bialowitz heard the leader call out, “If you survive, bear witness to what happened here! Tell the world about this place!” In this harrowing first-person account, the author fulfills the promise he made then.

Bialowitz, now one of only a few dozen survivors of Sobibór, where some 250,000 Jews were exterminated in 1942 and 1943, begins his story in Izbica, a small Polish village where Catholic schoolboys taunted him and the other Jewish boys as Christ killers. When the Nazis arrived, Jews were hunted down and killed, sometimes randomly, sometimes methodically. Quick-witted and determined to live, the teenaged Bialowitz had numerous narrow escapes from death—once he survived a mass graveside shooting by jumping into the pit as the shots were fired and hiding under the dead bodies for hours. In April 1943, however, he was loaded onto a truck by the SS and sent to Sobibór. At the camp, the strong and healthy Bialowitz was selected as a slave laborer, made to unload cattle cars of arriving victims, cut off women’s hair before their gassing and search though piles of clothing for valuables. Escape seemed impossible, for the camp was surrounded by heavily armed guards, barbed wire and a mine field. Nevertheless, in October 1943, in the largest and most successful prisoner uprising of the war, some 600 slave laborers revolted. About half managed to break out, the author among them. He hid in the forest, had perilous encounters with armed partisans, was hidden by farmers out of good will or in exchange for money, and eventually found his way home, only to discover that anti-Semitism had not ended with the war. Bialowitz left Poland and spent years in European displaced-persons camps before moving to the United States in 1950. He has made it his mission to keep the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust alive through lectures, testifying at the trials of war criminals and writing.

First published in Poland in 2008, this matter-of-fact account is chilling, sobering and memorable.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-299-24800-0

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


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

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?