Sappy toward the end, but mostly uplifting and profound.

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DWARF

A MEMOIR

With the assistance of People editor Dyball (co-author: A Famous Dog's Life: The Story of Gidget, America's Most Beloved Chihuahua, 2011, etc.), first-time author DiDonato tells the remarkable tale of her lifelong battle to overcome diastrophic dysplasia, a crippling genetic disorder that not only causes unusually short limbs, but chronic arthritis.

While many children long to be taller, the author decided early on to do whatever it took to combat her body’s literal shortcomings so she could perform such ordinary tasks as taking out the trash. Born with clubbed feet, the author underwent her first corrective surgery when she was 2 days old and then again at the age 2. With arms so short she couldn’t reach her own ears or other body parts, DiDonato improvised, employing salad tongs to wipe herself and help pull up her socks. But at 8 years of age and standing only 3 feet 8 inches tall, the constant desire for greater independence led her and her mother to seek out radical bone-lengthening treatments. A veteran of dozens of childhood surgeries, DiDonato viewed the pain and temporary immobility resulting from these grueling procedures as mere means to an end. Having gained four inches from her first lengthening surgeries and endured their torturous aftermath, the author chose to undertake the procedures again at 15, seeking out a surgeon who would enable her to risk going beyond the recommended additional three inches in height to whatever length her body could take. Throughout this engaging memoir, the author’s resolve to do “whatever it takes to live an independent life” proves unwavering, even in the face of criticism from others facing similar challenges who considered her choices motivated by a lack of self-acceptance.

Sappy toward the end, but mostly uplifting and profound.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-452-29811-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Plume

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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