In other hands, this litany of overachievement would have sounded like an exercise in self-congratulation, but Tynan treats...

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MY LIFE TILL NOW

A memoir by turns sedulous and spirited of the life of Irish tenor Tynan—a man, it turns out, of many parts other than his set of fine pipes.

“Had I not the cross to bear that I did, and I had I not made my own sort of pilgrimage in bearing it, who can say whether I’d ever have been rewarded with all I’ve been given?” That’s as close to boasting as Tynan comes in this account of his first 40 years. Born with focamelia, a bilateral deformity below the knee, young Ronan had to wear corrective braces, which squelched his competitive drive not a whit. He just kept doing the things that gave him pleasure: playing at sports, riding horses, singing with energy while walking in the fields of his family’s farm, pursuing those classes in school that interested him. When he was 20, he had his lower legs amputated; within a year, he was taking medals in international track and field competitions for the disabled. He went to medical school, then took up a general practice in the countryside, all the while finding solace in the joys of his music. His life was a gunning swirl of activity until, at age 32, he decided he must focus on one of his enthusiasms at a time. Music won, though not without further mishaps and detours. Tynan is wonderfully unimpressed by the fame that came to him as one of the Irish Tenors and quick to give credit to all those around him for their support, especially his brick of a father. He doesn’t invite our admiration for his pluck. Working hard at life was simply his style, he maintains; he made a good number of bad moves, same as everyone else.

In other hands, this litany of overachievement would have sounded like an exercise in self-congratulation, but Tynan treats his impressive—actually, astounding—life matter-of-factly.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2002

ISBN: 0-7432-2291-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2001

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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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