An inward-looking account with an important take-home message: Caring for a dying loved one is a demanding task, and...

NO SAINTS AROUND HERE

A CAREGIVER'S DAYS

A wife’s frank memoir of her time as a caregiver during the last 18 months of her husband’s life.

Writing teacher Toth (Leaning into the Wind: A Memoir of Midwest Weather, 2003, etc.), whose husband, James, had Parkinson’s disease, tells it like it is. Once a successful architect, he declined both physically and mentally as the disease ravaged his body. The author was determined to care for him at home in the house he had designed for them, the story of which is told in their jointly authored book, A House of One’s Own (1991). During those last months, Toth jotted down her thoughts, feelings and uncertainties, and she recorded the intimate details of caring for a helpless person. Arranged in chronological order, these short essays tell of a dark journey through slow decay and toward inevitable death. Caregivers do not just soothe fevered brows; they have to brush and floss their patients’ teeth, feed them, find the right commode, diapers, and waterproof mattress pads, clean up their messes and cope with their demands. They do what has to be done. While Toth makes it clear that she dearly loved the man she was caring for, she lets her fatigue, guilt, frustrations, fraying patience and even exasperation show. Having paid help is a plus, of course, and the author’s financial situation will be the envy of many. The bonds she formed with other caregivers who shared their experiences, sometimes with black humor, were invaluable to her. That may be the book’s greatest value—that caregivers of loved ones reading it will take comfort in knowing that what they are going through has been shared by many others.

An inward-looking account with an important take-home message: Caring for a dying loved one is a demanding task, and caregivers are only human.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8166-9286-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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