The splendidly preposterous facts overwhelm any infirmities in the telling of this amazing personal history.

1001 NIGHTS IN IRAQ

THE SHOCKING STORY OF AN AMERICAN FORCED TO FIGHT FOR SADDAM AGAINST THE COUNTRY HE LOVES

Strangely compelling memoir by a self-described “man without a country,” who relates his survival in and escape from Saddam’s war-torn Iraq.

Following his parents’ acrimonious divorce in 1978, 14-year-old Kenderian left Iraq with his mother and brother for the U.S. Seeking reconciliation with his father, he returned two years later, only to have Iraq’s borders close behind him at the outbreak of war with Iran. It lasted eight years; Kenderian ended up securing an engineering degree and serving in the Iraqi Navy. In 1990, after his father’s death, he tried to renew his green card, but before the process could be completed, he found himself an unwilling conscript fighting yet another of Saddam’s unprovoked wars. During the invasion of Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm, Kenderian decided his only chance of returning to the U.S. was to be captured by the Americans. His audacious plan succeeded, but not before a series of bizarre twists and turns more reminiscent of Kafka than Arabian Nights. The author and his frightened, unwilling comrades were sent into battle without sidearms, proper-caliber ammunition for the ship’s guns, medicine or sufficient food. Kenderian’s boat hit an Iraqi mine and was strafed by an American plane; he became the Gulf War’s 23rd prisoner of war. At a succession of POW camps, his captors thought he was a spy, while his fellow captives were suspect of the unusual attention he received from the guards. Sustained by his considerable wits, his deep religious faith, his unlikely love affair with truck-driving American servicewoman Monica and the intercession of family and friends in the outside world, he eventually made his way to his mother’s house in California. Kenderian’s account is at some points overly guarded; his parents’ story and his connection with Monica, for example, should have been discussed in more detail. His prose, an odd mixof world-weariness and naïveté, is also problematic.

The splendidly preposterous facts overwhelm any infirmities in the telling of this amazing personal history.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-4165-4019-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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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