An overlong but often riveting account of the life of perhaps the most compelling American Indian of this century. Means has never been far from controversy, and in this autobiography, written with Marvin Wolf (Family Blood: The True Story of the Yom Kippur Murders, 1993), he covers nearly all those he has been tangled up in. From his street-punk days in San Francisco and Los Angeles, to his time as an accountant and data processor, to his leadership in the militant American Indian Movement, to his current work as a film actor, Means recounts his nearly always interesting and complicated life. His memoir is action-packed, offering insider accounts of events like AIM's 71-day takeover of Wounded Knee in 1973, Means's near-constant barroom brawling, and his frequent brushes with death. Means interweaves the book with sometimes too much historical context from his family and tribal nation, the Oglala Lakota, and occasionally goes on at too much length about his opinions on subjects like the American educational system, but he also allows his best side to shine through, as father, son, and many-times husband. All in all, Means comes across as honesteven if at times he seems to take more credit than he deserves for various actions he was involved in (others in the drama, especially Indian leaders, will almost undoubtedly take Means to task on his characterizations of them). If nothing else, being able to get inside his head and understand his rationale for certain choices (like serving as pornographer Larry Flynt's running mate for the Republican presidential nomination) is worth the price of the book. Rarely reaches searing heat or soaring heights, but Means manages to sustain interest and energy throughout. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-13621-8

Page Count: 608

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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