Decked out like a history, with index and bibliography: a striking, romantic, personal narrative.

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TOMORROW TO BE BRAVE

A MEMOIR OF THE ONLY WOMAN EVER TO SERVE IN THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION

An extravagant tale of war and romance, with a decided emphasis on the latter.

Now in her 90s, Travers writes in an “I shall never forget” mode. With remarkable recall, she describes her cold English upbringing and portrays the tenor of society life in Cannes during the 1930s. In 1940 she changed her tennis whites for nurses’ khakis and joined the Free French—who, apparently, were free in lots of ways. She was soon chauffeuring officers in Eritrea along the road to Kub-Kub (a map is provided), but she managed to find the time for various randy encounters and assignations. The liaisons are presented as guileless romance, mind you, not actual sex. Under the nom de guerre of “La Miss,” Travers served as the driver for General Pierre Koenig—a dashing officer who soon became the love of her life. She was with him at Bir Hakeim when that North African outpost was besieged by Rommel; with her General in command, La Miss guided the historic breakout. Her description of the drive, negotiating between land mines and flying bullets, is the central and best part of her story, which really has less to do with military history than romance. She lived with lucky Pierre in domestic bliss during much of the war—but the joy faded with the arrival of the General’s wife. After the war, La Miss became an authentic member of the French Foreign Legion, married a fellow soldier, and raised a family. Now she’d like to tell her grandchildren “what a wicked grandmother they had.” It’s all a bit melodramatic, full of old-fashioned schoolgirl romance, but this is not “Barbara Cartland Goes to War”—for Cartland surely never received, as La Miss did, the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille Militaire.

Decked out like a history, with index and bibliography: a striking, romantic, personal narrative.

Pub Date: June 14, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-0001-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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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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