An often edifying tour of American military life.



A memoir of a man who joined the military in the 1970s as his ticket out of Chicago’s inner city. 

Debut author Braddock grew up in a tough neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. His biological father mistreated his mother, he says, and the fallout from witnessing such cruelty was lasting. The author was expelled from elementary school after striking a bully with a brick, which forced the family to relocate to another, more dangerous part of town. There, Braddock was robbed at gunpoint on his paper route. He says that his sixth-grade teacher told him that becoming a janitor was the highest achievement he could reasonably aspire to. However, Braddock drew inspiration from a neighborhood woman, Mrs. Hannaberry, who delivered wise counsel from the steps of her apartment building, which were commonly referred to as “The Stump.” Partly as a result of her encouragement and the support of his loving mother and stepfather, Braddock enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1973 and went on to have a long, distinguished career. He was eventually chosen to attend the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and rose to the rank of command sergeant major. He also won a reputation for being a capable leader, consistently tasked with turning around units lacking discipline and morale. The author’s remembrance jumps back and forth in time as it considers his troubled childhood and his military tenure, and it discusses his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder in a remarkably candid manner. The African-American author also starkly relates his encounters with racism in Chicago and in the South. Overall, Braddock’s life has been a notably dramatic one, and his trajectory from inauspicious origins to being a leader of soldiers is as gripping as it is inspiriting. That said, this account could have been streamlined a touch—there are too many digressions and detours that are inessential to the main themes, even if they’re engaging in their own right. Also, the text too often relates recollections of praise—a tendency that flirts with self-congratulation. However, Braddock still ably delivers a cinematic tale of personal triumph while also offering an illuminating portal into military culture. 

An often edifying tour of American military life. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 6, 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 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...


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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