Alas, Feynman never got to make the journey. His stomach cancer caught up with him and he died in 1988. Leighton, the high-school math teacher who was Feynman's close friend, fellow drummer, and chief amanuensis (with two wonderful Feynman-told- to-Leighton biographies to his credit) narrates the saga of what began as a typical Feynman tease: Leighton, complaining that math was okay, said what he really wanted to teach was geography. Feynman, testing his knowledge, asked ``Whatever happened to Tannu Tuva?'' Therein lies the tale. Tuva, to young stamp-collector Feynman, had been a set of handsome triangular and diamond-shaped stamps. Once an independent country northwest of Mongolia, it was annexed to the Soviet Union in 1944. What's more, its capital was spelled Kyzyl- -enough of an absurdity to make getting there the cause cÇläbre that would occupy Feynman and Leighton for the next ten years. It was the Soviet bureaucracy that did them in. First, they were told that since there was no Intourist agency there, it was no- go. Undaunted, they proceeded to track down every Tuvan authority in the world, and found grammars, phrase, and travel books that only whet their appetites more to see the yurts, yaks, and nomads, explore the art and ruins, and hear the native ``throat'' singers—able to sound two vocal lines simultaneously. They learned to write fractured Tuvan and ultimately arranged to have a major show of nomadic art tour the US. But the bureaucratic confusions and conflicts between Moscow and Tuva and Los Angeles, not to mention demands for rubles, always snatched the prize just when it was in sight. Since the book focuses more on the frustrations of making the trip and less on Feynman, it is not as satisfactory as the earlier books. On the other hand, it says a lot about coping with the bureaucracy and, yes, Leighton did eventually make it to Tuva.

Pub Date: April 29, 1991

ISBN: 0-393-02953-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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 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 19, 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...


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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