A book for Levi completists and students of the Italian Resistance. Luzzatto provides a decent picture of the Italian...



Luzzatto (History/Univ. of Turin; Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, 2010, etc.) combines his obsessions with Primo Levi (1919-1987) and the Italian Resistance.

The armistice signed with the Allies by no means ended the war in Italy. The Allies supplied arms to the Italian army in the south and the partisans in the north but distrusted the native resistance and the communists. The Germans reacted by rescuing Mussolini from captivity and establishing the second fascist regime as the Social Republic of Salò. Thus began a war of liberation in addition to civil war. The fascist/Nazi government was the target of those young men, many of them Turinese Jews, in the Valle d’Aosta who were “inventing the Resistance.” Many of them were untrained hotheads and roughnecks with little leadership. Levi was a part of that group, and the author seeks answers to an “ugly secret” mentioned in Levi’s book of short stories published in 1975, The Periodic Table. On Dec. 13, 1943, the local prefect set in motion a plan to gather up draft evaders and all Jews now subject to arrest under a new police directive. Edilio Cagni and his two henchmen, Alberto Bianchi and Domenico De Ceglie, led the Salò and German forces to the mountain hideouts. Levi was taken prisoner and sent to Auschwitz. He didn’t return to Italy until 1945, but his writings are what led Luzzatto to dig deeply into the truth of his sentence, of the men who betrayed them, and of the reprisals and vendettas that lingered for years. Though periodically intriguing, the book is lacking as an attempt to explain the Italian Resistance, perhaps covering too small an area. The somewhat disjointed narrative features characters introduced and then ignored.

A book for Levi completists and students of the Italian Resistance. Luzzatto provides a decent picture of the Italian character, the wide variance of political parties, and the dedication of the people to their country.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9955-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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