THE DEFIANT

A TRUE STORY OF JEWISH VENGEANCE AND SURVIVAL

A breathless Holocaust memoir of a young man who was, variously, victim, avenger, partisan, Polish soldier, and illegal immigrant to Palestine. At the core of the book is Yoran's love for his mother, a strong woman who had instilled her Zionist dreams in her family and had held them together during the war's early days. Soon after the Nazis invaded Poland, Yoran and his brother Musio, urged on by their dying mother (``Go, my beloved children,'' she says, ``and take vengeance for us''), hid out in a small underground bunker in a forest, enduring a bitter winter. Then, driven by their mother's parting words, they emerged and set about taking their revenge. They joined a group of partisans. Yoran, with his Aryan looks, a facility in several languages, and a daunting tolerance for homemade vodka (alcohol, Yoran suggests, caused the deaths of many partisans), moved freely in a variety of dangerous circles. He witnessed hideous atrocities carried out by German and Slavic soldiers and civilians, he heard a great deal, and he forgot nothing. Among the deranged figures he describes are a Nazi who boasted of killing babies and an NKVD agent who swore that he would kill his own mother if she proved to be a counter-revolutionary. Yoran is never reluctant to admit that he was often deeply fearful; despite that, he carried out some audacious bluffs, was involved in a number of vicious gunfights, and participated in some signal military successes with the partisans, including the destruction of German troop trains. The two teenage brothers eventually joined the Red Army and ended by pursuing the retreating Nazis back on to German soil. After a series of postwar misadventures, some of them comical, Yoran finally arrived in his mother's Promised Land. The most chilling, powerful, and well-written wartime memoir since The End of Days. (22 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14585-3

Page Count: 292

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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

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UNTAMED

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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