“What can’t these SEALs do?” To hear Denver tell it, when it comes to special operations, hardly anything at all. Good...

DAMN FEW

MAKING THE MODERN SEAL WARRIOR

A 14-year veteran of more than 200 combat missions reflects on a career training and leading the Navy’s elite warriors.

Thanks to their many conspicuous successes since 9/11, the SEALs are enjoying a golden moment, celebrated in a number of books and films. Though they number barely 2,500, the SEALs’ special skills have proven especially effective in an unconventional terror war, so much so that intense pressure exists now to create more of these special operators, even as the brotherhood attempts to hold the line, fearful of compromising standards and quality. Denver addresses this intraservice controversy, but his story explains why it will take more than a Pentagon fiat to create more SEALs. The fact remains: Few people have the strength, resilience, aggressiveness and mental toughness sufficient to survive BUD/S, their tortuously rigorous entry program, and the subsequent years of advanced training and moment’s notice, high-risk deployments. SEALs come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s impossible to predict who will succeed. With the help of Newsday columnist Henican (co-author: In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything, 2011, etc.), Denver takes us through a few SEAL missions, including the bin Laden raid, the sniping of Somali pirates and some house-to-house operations in Iraq. But his focus here is on the training, the lessons taught—that winning pays, that small details matter, that thorough preparation is essential, that nothing about war is fair—and on explaining the SEAL culture, from the outrageous “van brawls” (don’t ask) and the enduring fraternal network, to the solemn significance of the gold Trident and the unique self-knowledge that comes with being a “meat eater,” a man who’s killed someone on the battlefield.

“What can’t these SEALs do?” To hear Denver tell it, when it comes to special operations, hardly anything at all. Good reading for military buffs.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2479-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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