EACH ONE TEACH ONE

UP AND OUT OF POVERTY: MEMOIRS OF A STREET ACTIVIST

A memoir recounting the struggles of a black Puerto Rican activist who helps others trapped, as he once was, in cycles of poverty, addiction, and homelessness. Casanova, vice president of the National Union of the Homeless and editor of the Union of the Homeless National News, shares two stories: his personal account of growing up in orphanages, on city streets, in detention centers and prisons; and the contemporary struggles of the homeless, especially on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. What emerges is a perturbing portrait of a callous, inefficient bureaucracy. The memoir's strength is its detailed indictment of various so-called ``helping'' institutions. Particularly disturbing is Casanova's depiction of Matteawan State Hospital, where he spent part of his adolescence, and where he witnessed mentally ill patients being routinely beaten, drugged, and placed in straitjackets by sadistic correction officers. Casanova was 16 when he saw officers ``take a patient, wrap towels around his neck . . . and drag him down the long ward until he was dead.'' He asserts that incompetent doctors were also responsible for many deaths, which were routinely dismissed as heart failures. Casanova's negative experiences taught him that ``all institutions tend to want you to remain dependent on them.'' He lashes out at the welfare system, aspects of Christianity and its various institutions, as well as left-liberal politicians. There is nothing one can depend on, Casanova concludes, other than oneself. Diagnosed as HIV-positive at age 51, Casanova sees his task—and that of all true activists and social workers—as not just feeding people, but providing them with the tools to feed themselves. Many institutions, and American society in general, are indicted in this angry memoir for failing to do that. Though the prose is often lackluster, this is a valuable firsthand account of a street survivor's harrowing experiences. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-880684-37-3

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Curbstone Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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