Vapid reminiscences of rear-echelon service with the US Army during WW II. Drafted in 1943 shortly after he graduated from high school in rural Wisconsin, poet and memoirist Peters (Crunching Gravel, 1988, etc.) wasn't much of a soldier. During basic training, he was the company's barber in garrison and the captain's runner on maneuvers. Subsequently seconded to the regimental newspaper, he was saved from the nasty, brutish, and short life of a rifleman by a personnel sergeant who made him a clerk-typist on the eve of his departure for England. Posted to France five months after the Normandy invasion, Peters and his fellow Remington raiders trailed the ground troops advancing on Nazi Germany at a safe distance. Assigned to occupation duty near Heidelberg as a battalion sergeant-major, he had a comparatively agreeable time of it before his discharge in the spring of 1946. Peters evidently means to suggest that the military holds a host of perils, moral and otherwise, even for those who never come under fire. A virginal youth who planned a career in the Lutheran ministry, the author experienced ambivalent sexual longings in the barracks and on the streets of bombed-out cities. Strongly attracted to several of his comrades in secretarial arms at a time when homophobia was a matter of policy in America's armed forces, Peters nonetheless managed some angst-ridden liaisons with young women in Germany and Paris (where he attended a gloriously evocative concert by Marlene Dietrich). The problem for readers is that his narcissistic recollections have distance but no perspective. Donne notwithstanding, the youthful Peters emerges as a narrow, self-absorbed island in the sea of destruction and human misery that engulfed the Continent before the guns fell silent. (13 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-299-14810-6

Page Count: 122

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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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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