An intimate trek into the venal world of art looting and selling.

THE ICON HUNTER

A REFUGEE'S QUEST TO RECLAIM HER NATION'S STOLEN HERITAGE

A Greek Cypriot refugee in the Netherlands chronicles her fierce determination to return stolen artifacts to her country through years of dangerous underworld operations.

Having fled her hometown of Famagusta, Cyprus, at age 14 with her family when the Turkish military invaded the country in 1974, Hadjitofi relocated to The Hague and became, in her early 20s, a businesswoman and honorary consul to her country. While there, she was approached by a Dutch art dealer with a special interest in Byzantine icons and religious paintings, many looted shamelessly from the hundreds of ancient churches located in the occupied area of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion. In this detailed narrative, rendered in occasionally stilted English, the author moves back and forth in time to give a sense of her life in Cyprus before the invasion among her intensely pious Christian community, and she shows how crucial to their religion these icons were. She re-creates the time she was first approached by the dealer, Michel Van Rijn, in 1988; he held out to her tantalizing possibilities of retrieving many sacred icons from Aydin Dikmen, a Turkish dealer with whom he maintained shadowy dealings. In return, she and her country would have to come up with staggering amounts of money. Over more than 10 years, Hadjitofi managed to use the highly volatile Van Rijn to get at Dikmen through an extensive undercover sting operation. Her adventures took her to Munich and London and Cyprus, and she effectively kept the police at bay to lure Dikmen into the trap and the ultimate discovery of priceless artifacts. The author’s work is also a personal memoir, not only of her life in Cyprus, but also of her struggles as a young woman trying to start a family and maintain her IT business, Octagon. Her journey is endearing, and she brings the plight of the Cypriots into sharper focus.

An intimate trek into the venal world of art looting and selling.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-323-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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