A direct, dispassionate memoir by one of the Navy’s most highly decorated soldiers.

SEAL WARRIOR

DEATH IN THE DARK: VIETNAM 1968-1972

An unsentimental personal account of the Vietnam War.

With the assistance of magazine writer Riebling, retired SEAL master chief Keith chronicles a tale that’s oddly refreshing in its clear-eyed bluntness. The author and his tough-as-nails team had jobs to do, he writes, carrying out missions protecting friendly villages from Viet Cong attacks; they simply did not have time to let the brutal surroundings affect them. The narrative opens with the SEALs surrounded by explosions and tracer fire as they wait to be extracted by helicopter. Keith was not consumed by fear, as most people would be. Instead, he reflected on how the red tracer fire was “as beautiful as any Fourth of July fireworks display” and how lucky he felt to be doing a job he loved. The son of a Navy chief and the grandson of two Army veterans, from an early age Keith dreamed of entering the military, and his determination and skill led him to the elite Navy SEALs. There’s little doubt that he was born to be a soldier, as his hard-nosed, complete-the-mission training comes through on every page of this memoir. When one of his soldiers died, he took lessons from the circumstances of the death rather than spend precious time mourning or dwelling on the life-or-death scenarios he faced on a daily basis. Keith’s prose leans toward Mickey Spillane–like hypermasculinity—he describes a beautiful woman as having “hit the jackpot” on the “genetic wheel of fortune”—and the author dwells on technical aspects of weaponry to the point of distraction. Nonetheless, he provides a tough, unphilosophical account of the job of war.

A direct, dispassionate memoir by one of the Navy’s most highly decorated soldiers.

Pub Date: July 7, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-37904-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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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