Goldberg writes eloquently of the “volcanic pressures” that shaped her family’s story and continue to haunt her own.

MOTHERLAND

GROWING UP WITH THE HOLOCAUST

A daughter revisits her mother’s harrowing past.

Goldberg (Comparative Literature/Harvard Univ.; Sex and Enlightenment: Women in Richardson and Diderot, 1984) grew up knowing that her parents had survived the Holocaust through a combination of luck, agonizing struggles and selfless acts of heroism. Her emotionally shattering memoir focuses on her mother’s experiences, as the author seeks to understand a parent she felt had distanced herself from her children and to explore the legacy of the Holocaust on her own identity. “I have never known what to do with this history,” writes Goldberg. “It makes a better tale than anything that has happened in my own life, and it has to some extent paralyzed me.” She and her sisters felt they “had to live up to the myth we inherited…[of] our grandparents’ martyrdom, on the one hand, and our parents’ exceptional courage, on the other.” They felt inadequate and inconsequential in comparison. Surely, Hilde Jacobsthal emerges as heroic in Goldberg’s sensitive recounting, documented by material from the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies; histories and memoirs; and probing interviews with her mother, father and uncle. Living with her parents and brother in Amsterdam, Hilde was best friends with Anne Frank’s older sister, Margot; after the war, Otto Frank became Rita Goldberg’s godfather. Hilde happened to be away from Amsterdam when the Nazis made a sweeping arrest of Jews, including her parents. The 15-year-old returned home to find the Nazi seal on her door and her parents gone. She fled to Belgium and spent the war years in hiding, fearful always of betrayal. After the war, she served tirelessly and devotedly as a nurse, child care center director, and liaison with the British Red Cross in Bergen-Belsen, the American Joint Distribution Committee, and the U.N. Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

Goldberg writes eloquently of the “volcanic pressures” that shaped her family’s story and continue to haunt her own.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62097-073-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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