An occasionally interesting but otherwise unremarkable book about how even the privileged can truly experience heartbreaking...

THE ANGEL IN MY POCKET

A STORY OF LOVE, LOSS, AND LIFE AFTER DEATH

A Boston Brahmin who had it all chronicles her experiences dealing with the tragic death of her beloved young daughter.

The descendant of successful New England merchants and the distinguished essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, Forbes was heir to wealth and a tradition of spiritualism that included both transcendentalism and a belief in ghosts. On the surface, her life seemed perfect. However, beneath the privilege was a family past that included alcoholism, divorce and repression that caused Forbes to distance herself from her emotions. An apparently happy marriage brought her the peace and stability she craved, but when her 6-year-old daughter, Charlotte, died from a rare genetic disorder, her world began to implode. Forbes immersed herself in the mementos of her daughter’s brief life and gradually began the process of mourning Charlotte’s death. In search of guidance for how to navigate “life…death and grieving,” Forbes turned to the wisdom of her ancestors and joined support groups. But it wasn’t until she took a friend’s advice to see a medium that she began to accept Charlotte’s passing as a form of spiritual transition and understand the depth of her connection to the Emersonian part of her heritage. As “the boundaries between the natural and supernatural, the living and the dead” became redefined, the author became increasingly aware that “there was still room for grief even while [she] was full of life.” At the same time, she realized that her husband, who had mourned Charlotte’s death with greater openness and ferocity, was holding her back from personal fulfillment. Middle-aged but spiritually renewed, she struck out on her own. Forbes’ book is at heart an exercise in articulating emotions scorned by her upbringing. Yet its elisions—most notably, those dealing with Forbes’ marriage and relationship to her husband—make for less-than-satisfying reading.

An occasionally interesting but otherwise unremarkable book about how even the privileged can truly experience heartbreaking trauma.

Pub Date: July 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-02631-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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