A sharp and affecting piece of perspective-setting.



Longtime journalist and former television producer Cohen recounts with aplomb and high character his years battling chronic illness.

This couldn’t have been easy to write. The author is reticent by nature, so laying bare the impact of multiple sclerosis and cancer—his malfunctioning limbs, numb appendages, bad gut, loss of vision, his anger, his fragile grip on life—is an act of emotional health that, though salubrious, clashes with some of his basic instincts. Multiple sclerosis has no treatment, no certain outcome, no definitive cause, and no cure; it is a process, a grim pileup on the central nervous system. Cohen tested limits, postponed consequences, and practiced denial, then started learning the art of candor: to whom and when to be honest about his illness. After stints in Gdansk and Beirut, this television producer on a rip admitted that his death-defying behavior was absurd, that he was not right and fit as rain. Nonetheless, he wanted (along with other things, like walking upright and seeing straight) a woman in his life and a family. He found Meredith Vieira, also in the TV business, whose desire to be a hands-on mother made her a cause célèbre among some in the 60 Minutes studio. And Cohen was busy elsewhere, with their children, learning that “those who battle with illness are blind to the fact that even in our pain, we give to our loved ones, even as we receive.” As a parent, he realized, “a temporary ileostomy was the least of my worries. . . . I laughed ruefully, bitterly, at the situation and at myself.” Via a number of sources, Cohen ultimately learns that coping is “just a quiet task aimed at emotional well-being, if not survival,” and that there will likely be many jarring moments ahead for everyone. He lays out these lessons in unflappable prose, freely acknowledging that his behavior is not always so even-tempered.

A sharp and affecting piece of perspective-setting.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-001409-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2003

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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 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...


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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