Saffian’s record is a tribute to both families, who behaved sensitively throughout.

ITHAKA

A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR OF BEING FOUND

A vividly realized memoir by an adoptee who was eventually "found" by her birth parents.

Journalist and former New York Daily News reporter Saffian shared a comfortable, upper-middle-class life with a loving, supportive family. Though her adoptive mother died when she was only six years old, within a few years her father remarried; her new mother, too, was thoroughly devoted to her. To her parents' credit, she feels as bonded to them as do her siblings, who are their biological offspring. By the time she was 24 and a graduate of Brown University, Saffian had a comfortable apartment, a caring boyfriend, and an engaging job. But when she was contacted by her natural mother, her entire life was thrust off course. Feeling cheated that she was not the one to conduct the search, she wasn't ready to welcome her birth parents into her life. Even though they were loving and open, Saffian couldn't help but view them as intruders; she was determined to get to know them, yet on her own terms. She questioned, for example, how they could claim to love her before they'd even met her as an adult. During the three-year period leading from her birth mother’s initial phone call to Saffian’s meeting with her birth parents, she involved herself in a painful journey of self-discovery. Sharing letters, memories, and insights, the author takes us with her on this sometimes torturous yet ultimately satisfying trip. Also included here is an appendix listing organizations and support groups for those involved with the adoption process, along with a bibliography of books about adoption.

Saffian’s record is a tribute to both families, who behaved sensitively throughout.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1998

ISBN: 0-465-03618-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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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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