A provocative work, tinged with sadness and anger.

LOSE YOUR MOTHER

A JOURNEY ALONG THE ATLANTIC SLAVE ROUTE

Somber meditation by a descendant of slaves who journeyed to Africa to understand her past.

In 1997, Hartman (English/UC Berkeley) went to Ghana as a Fulbright Scholar and spent a year researching the slave trade. “Intent on tracing an itinerary of destruction from the coast to the savanna,” she did much more than simply uncover the past; her book describes a deeply personal journey taken by a woman who insists that the ghosts of slavery still haunt the present. The author visited Elmina, the place where slaves captured in the hinterlands by Africans were sold to European slave traders and warehoused before shipment across the Atlantic to the New World. She traveled north to visit Salaga, home of the largest slave market in Ghana. The text mingles accounts of her explorations of the present-day sites, including Elmina’s underground dungeon, with the dark stories of their pasts, conjuring up brutal, bloody images. Hartman also weaves in the story of her own ancestors—or rather, of how little she knows about them, since to be a slave is to “lose your mother”: to lose your identity, your past, your country. The author’s research into the slave trade turns up a host of vivid and gruesome details, including a horrific account of the torture and murder of a young woman by a British sea captain who was later tried and acquitted of the crime. She depicts herself throughout as a lonely figure, regarded as an outsider by Ghanaians. Their ancestors were fortunate enough to elude capture, so they did not share the sense of loss that shaped Hartman’s and many other African-American lives.

A provocative work, tinged with sadness and anger.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2007

ISBN: 0-374-27082-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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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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