For fans of The Burma Road, Into Thin Air, and other tales in the man-vs.-the-elements vein.

LOST IN TIBET

THE UNTOLD STORY OF FIVE AMERICAN AIRMEN, A DOOMED PLANE, AND THE WILL TO SURVIVE

A well-rendered story of WWII action and adventure, one with plenty of twists and operational pointers for future warriors: “Don’t cross mountain ranges. Always go down in valleys.”

The author of that tip, one of the survivors of a fallen C-87 transport plane, knew whereof he wrote. In December 1943, those GIs were flying over the “Hump,” or Himalayas, on their way home from delivering supplies to China. Blown off course by a storm and forced to ditch when their plane ran out of fuel, the men picked their way across the mountains and eventually found a Tibetan village, where they had an education in store: “If the five Americans had thought about Tibet at all,” write journalists Starks and Murcutt, “they had done so in terms if caricatures. The average American saw Tibet . . . as a kind of mythical Shangri-la, a country that existed more in the mind than in reality. It was a place they might enjoy reading about, but not one they would actually want to visit.” They were right on the last point, for the crewmen found themselves caught up in a Great Game struggle among Tibet, then still free and determined to stay that way, an expansionist China, and an always-in-the-shadows Britain. They were also in danger of being stoned for having broken a taboo, for “no Tibetan, and certainly no foreigner, was ever allowed to look down on a Dalai Lama” as from a passing plane—never mind, as the pilot observed, that any Tibetan who ventured into the hills surrounding Lhasa would stand taller than the nation’s ruler. Indeed, the US government later ventured in a face-saving effort, Tibetan forces attacked the GIs as they flew overhead—a lie, though one that helped explain away why, despite the Tibetan government’s efforts, the Roosevelt administration would never acknowledge that nation’s independence, mindful of offending China.

For fans of The Burma Road, Into Thin Air, and other tales in the man-vs.-the-elements vein.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-59228-572-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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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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