A terribly poignant work that conveys the brutal reality of the time through intimate connection with a young person.

RENIA'S DIARY

A HOLOCAUST JOURNAL

Personality and hope abound in this diary by a teenage Polish Jewish girl who was murdered by the Nazis in 1942.

Presented by her younger sister, Elizabeth (b. 1930), the diary freezes the life of Renia (b. 1924), who began writing in 1939, in a specific moment in time. “In the end,” writes Elizabeth, “I know my words are the legacy of the life my sister didn’t get to have, while Renia’s are the memories of a youth trapped forever in war.” Much like the better-known diaries of Anne Frank and Hélène Berr, Renia’s entries are filled with day-to-day schoolgirl details, but the war consistently looms in the background. Stuck in a small city in southeastern Poland, Renia and her sister were shunted off to live with their grandparents while her mother was separated from them in German-occupied Warsaw. Bomb raids, sirens, attacks, and rumors about her town; food in short supply; worry about when she will see her mother again—these pepper her entries. “I still live in fear of searches, of violence,” she writes in January 1940; by June, when her birthday arrives, she is writing miserably of France’s capitulation and how “Hitler’s army is flooding Europe. America is refusing to help. Who knows, they might even start a war with Russia.” A new boyfriend fills many of her subsequent entries and poems, and her young love often disguises what is really going on, namely the herding of her community into a Jewish ghetto and the subsequent roundups. In an epilogue, Elizabeth explains her attempts to hide and eventual exposure to the Germans. Renowned Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt provides the introduction.

A terribly poignant work that conveys the brutal reality of the time through intimate connection with a young person.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-24402-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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