A disturbingly honest memoir.

WHAT IS REAL

THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DARNELL RILEY

An ex-con tells the story of life inside the California state prison system.

In 2005, Perez (full name Darnell Riley Perez) was “a year removed from my last criminal act”: breaking into Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis’ Bel Air home, videotaping Francis in compromising positions, and using the resulting footage to extort money. Then, without warning, two armed U.S. Marshalls captured Perez at his home. In this gritty memoir, the author details the decade he spent behind bars. His first experiences at the LA County jail lockup showed him just how difficult incarceration could be. The cramped cells had no windows and no clocks, and the prison moved inmates around often, creating a sense of instability. Corrections officers carried out everything from full body searches to meal service “with the same level of hate for the process as the inmates.” A majority of convicts were involved in notorious gangs like the Crips, Bloods, and the Asian Boyz, divided along racial lines. Perez identified himself as a more-or-less neutral “Other” and managed to stay out of most intergang confrontations. But loneliness and separation from family and friends took its toll. With an almost frightening sangfroid, he writes about collecting a secret stash of sleeping pills to use in case his trial “was a failure.” In early 2006, Perez was formally charged and sentenced to 10 years and moved to the Corcoran State Prison, which housed convicted murderer Charles Manson. A female corrections officer briefly made a sexually frustrated Perez one of her “personal sex performers” and watched him masturbate when he was alone in his cell. Later, he became a “soldier” in a private war between convicts and assaulted an inmate who had not paid a debt to another. Grim, unrelenting, and at times difficult to read, the book takes readers on a journey to the dark side of both prison life and human nature.

A disturbingly honest memoir.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947856-26-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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