A harrowing though not uncommon story.



Huber (Creative Writing/Ashland Univ. and Georgia Southern Univ., Opa Nobody, 2008) chronicles her torturous efforts to navigate the health-care system.

Growing up in the 1970s in a middle-class family, the author experienced a fairly uneventful childhood and adolescence—during which she was “laser focused” on academic success—marred only by occasional severe headaches. However, by her sophomore year in college, she began suffering from severe panic attacks and blackouts. Initially she rejected the medical recommendation that she take “a little blue pill” and turned instead to alternative medicine. Not only did she entrust her health to a “patchwork safety net of community health practitioners,” but after graduation she took paid work as a lobbyist for universal health care. Ironically the job did not come with health benefits, and she began a 13-year slide into poverty. With 11 gaps in health-insurance coverage, her health worsened, even though, when money permitted, she took antidepressants. During that time, she worked at a succession of jobs, including community organizer, reporter at a local newspaper, adjunct college lecturer and a freelance writer, earning two MFA degrees along the way. The author describes her life during those years as a “torrid and twisted love affair with health insurance.” By the time she was 33, she was married, although soon to be divorced, and the mother of a young child. The good news was that she had learned to game the public-health system and deal with insurance companies by using “a bit of logic and a bit of force.” In 2006, she accepted a full-time teaching job at Georgia Southern, a position that came with major health-insurance benefits. After a thorough medical examination, she learned that many of her health problems were caused by a malformed jaw and were treatable.

A harrowing though not uncommon story.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8032-2623-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bison/Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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