Hawking's candid explanation of how his ideas about the origins of the universe and the nature of black holes have evolved...

MY BRIEF HISTORY

Hawking (co-author: The Grand Design, 2010 etc.) briefly examines his life and his well-earned celebrity status—“partly because scientists, apart from Einstein, are not widely known rock stars, and partly because I fit the stereotype of a disabled genius.”

Although he is now almost completely immobilized by the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), the author looks back on his life with “quiet satisfaction,” with both his personal life and also due to his major contributions to understanding the relationship between the origins of our universe and the existence of black holes. He writes convincingly of the past 50 years: “It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics.” He describes his early fascination with electric trains and the complex board games that he invented as early manifestations of his drive to understand how systems work and how to control them. Just as he was beginning his doctoral work at Cambridge, he was diagnosed with ALS and given only two years to live. Until that time, his academic career had been unremarkable, and he admits to affecting a typical student pose at the time: being bored with life. Eventually, though, his life took on a new zest, especially after he became engaged to his first wife. By 1979, when their third child was born, he had made his mark with a series of groundbreaking discoveries, and he occupied the prestigious position of Cambridge's Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (a chair originally held by Isaac Newton). His first popular work on cosmology, A Brief History of Time (1988), became a widely translated, global best-seller.

Hawking's candid explanation of how his ideas about the origins of the universe and the nature of black holes have evolved ends with intriguing hints on the current direction of his thinking.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-345-53528-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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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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