Eye-opening reading for anyone interested in learning more about refugees and their plights.

I JUST WANTED TO SAVE MY FAMILY

A French legal expert’s account of how efforts to rescue his Syrian refugee in-laws turned into a protracted legal and political nightmare.

Pélissier married his wife, Zena, in 2012, just as the conflict in her native Syria began to intensify. In 2013, while visiting her parents, the newlyweds discovered that war had forced them to move from the outskirts of Damascus to an area they believed was safer. Over the next two years, the family endured the kidnapping and imprisonment of Zena's father, the rejection of their application for asylum in France, and a grueling journey involving smugglers that took them to Greece and almost cost them their lives. Desperation forced the family to contemplate using human traffickers again to get them into Italy. Unwilling to allow his in-laws to experience further trauma, Pélissier went to Greece in 2015 to take them back to France with him, knowing that French law would allow him to do so without punishment. Greek officials arrested the author and forced him to return home while his in-laws were forced to again use smugglers to help them get to France. In the years that followed, Pélissier and his wife battled to keep her family in their town only to be told everyone—including Zena’s now-ill father—would be deported. In 2016, another town offered the family refugee status, but a year later, Pélissier became embroiled in a long, costly legal battle with the Greek government, which accused him of being a "human trafficker.” Both sobering and informative, this story of human suffering—which is told in both Pélissier’s voice and the voices of some of his relatives—calls necessary attention to the brokenness of democratic legal systems and their terrifying inability to effectively handle ongoing humanitarian emergencies like the Syrian refugee crisis.

Eye-opening reading for anyone interested in learning more about refugees and their plights.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63542-018-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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