A quick, inspirational story of overcoming adversity.



A touching debut memoir about a young Ugandan man who escapes poverty and becomes a mentor for others.

Katende writes that he was abandoned by his parents as an infant and spent his early years with his grandmother, wandering from village to village in search of food. To make matters worse, a terrifying insurrection against the country’s president sent them into hiding. After the war, Katende’s mother returned to live with them but then died of breast cancer in the late 1980s. The author considered ending his life with rat poison when he was in elementary school, but he didn’t have enough money to buy it. Instead, he persevered and began to excel at school and in sports. He eventually earned a scholarship to pursue an engineering degree at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda. Katende credits much of his success to an accomplished soccer player and mentor he met there—Aloysius Kyazze, who fostered his Christian faith and encouraged him to play sports. In turn, the author says, he was inspired to help others succeed, and he founded SOM Chess Academy. His most notable protégé was the Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi, whose story was portrayed in a 2012 book by the American journalist Tim Crothers and the 2016 Disney film Queen of Katwe. The first half of this fast-paced account includes commentary within stories of Katende’s early struggles. For example, an anecdote about his grandmother’s creative search for food is coupled with an account of chess strategy. Despite the author’s hardships throughout his life, the slim book’s tone is upbeat, and the second half—written with research partner and debut author Nathan Kiwere—presents heartfelt testimonies from Katende’s students. The author’s smooth-flowing prose is laced with poignant details; for example, in order to get hungry kids to come to the chess club, Katende says that he offered free bowls of porridge. There are several memorable people in these stories, as well, such as Sharif Wasswa Mbazira, who didn’t let severe disabilities affecting his limbs stop him from competing in chess tournaments in the United States.

A quick, inspirational story of overcoming adversity.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64146-377-5

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Made For Success Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?