Forthright remembrances of a highly capable author’s gritty sojourns in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

SIX YEARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

A PICTORIAL JOURNEY, 2003-2009

The burly memoir of a diabetic Vietnam veteran recalling his later-in-life adventures as a Department of Defense contractor in the war-ravaged but, for contractors, lucrative Middle East.

The author, who uses the pen name Tenacity (T.W.S.C.: A Shrouded Autobiography, 2014), is nothing if not unusual. In 2003 and in his 50s, a time in life when many are contemplating retirement, he signed on with a defense contractor and headed off for Saddam Hussein’s former palace in Baghdad, his assigned digs while he worked setting up phone and computer systems. Nobody was there to meet him at the airport when he arrived. This was no great problem for the swashbuckling author, whose resourcefulness and fatalistic willingness to take risks—themes that recur throughout the book—got him not only to the palace gate, but through six years as a contractor in far-flung outposts where he was regularly three times the age of the soldiers around him. His sometimes-dicey travels to various Iraqi cities and also to Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman are detailed along with his observant but often less-than-vivid impressions of each post and the people there. Readers learn that his pen name befits his indispensable-man doggedness in repairing and upgrading computers and devices. However, in this essentially ground-level chronicle, those looking for deep insights into Middle Eastern affairs will not find it among the author’s scattered, big-picture opinions. For instance, the author does not or will not satisfy our interest in knowing how much he and other contractors earned for working in these often hazardous places. Yet the book, which is enhanced by black-and-white photos, is brightened by an improbable love story in which the author, who has grown children but makes no mention of a wife, wooed and eventually wedded a Brazilian woman whom he met on eHarmony while in Oman during 2006 and 2007. Pictures of these two in exotic climes light up what are otherwise fairly pedestrian snapshots of places and people. Many include the author, who is less reluctant to show his face than he is to reveal his name.

Forthright remembrances of a highly capable author’s gritty sojourns in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491746820

Page Count: 224

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

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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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