A series of travel notes that fails to add up to more than the sum of its parts.

GULLIBLE TRAVELS

HE TRULY SENSATIONAL, HUMOROUS AND AMAZING ENCOUNTERS OF OVER A DECADE OF TRAVELS

An American traveler shares his notes of times abroad.

In his debut memoir, Bermann treats his readers to 10 years of sallies to spots far from his Houston hometown, places such as Colombia, Kenya, and the Philippines. Bermann tells of carrying bottles of alcohol effortlessly through airport security, flirting with attractive women the world over, and endeavoring to make the most of his time away from home. His accounts of many conversations with strangers along the way show him to be a friendly, easygoing sort, as happy to share jokes on the deck of a boat as he is to snorkel with the sharks beneath it. The author is also an avid sports fan, and his account is most absorbing when he describes the many baseball games that he’s traveled to see (“The Boston Red Sox did most of the good things,” he writes of an All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, “but they were booed anyway”). Bermann is a talented sportsman, and he reprints a pageslong passage from his friend Finn Aagaard’s 1992 book Aagaard’s Africa, which describes how Bermann felled a Cape buffalo with a single shot. Bermann’s own detailed prose convincing makes his journeys seem desirable. However, the book often reads like a series of disconnected jottings. Because the text has no proper introduction, readers are left to piece together for themselves who different people are, what prompted several trips, and, in some cases, even what took place. For example, one anecdote about Belize “cave tubing”—traveling through caves in large, inflatable inner tubes—reads, nearly in full, “We had a guide that took us through the caves. After that, we headed back.” What did the caves look like? A few paragraphs later, the author tells of being joined by some young men on a boat: “They carried on about a lot of things that we all got a good laugh over.” What was so funny? Overall, the book fails to take into account such details, which mars a potentially worthy account.

A series of travel notes that fails to add up to more than the sum of its parts.

Pub Date: March 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5035-5350-7

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2017

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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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