A tale of resourcefulness outside the death camps—and another worthy addition to the still burgeoning literature of the...

MASQUERADE

DANCING AROUND DEATH IN NAZI-OCCUPIED HUNGARY

Hungarian lawyer Soros (father of financier George Soros) describes the endurance of the Jews in wartime Budapest in his memoir (which was first published—in Esperanto—in 1965).

If you want to know what makes George Soros (and his brother Paul) tick, the clues are to be found in the story told here by their father, a thoughtful man of the world who eluded annihilation by adapting the techniques of animal mimicry. He split the family into separate residences and, with the use of false papers certifying their Christianity, enabled them to become invisible by taking on the coloration of their surroundings. A thoroughly secular Jew, Soros acted independently, disdaining the Jewish Council as a collaborative entity sponsored by murderers. He became, when necessary, a retailer of forged documents. The eventual advent of the infamous Arrow Cross regime (the native Hungarian version of Nazism) brought on a particularly evil turn of events: Soros witnessed the slaughter of multitudes of fellow Jews—men, women, and children—by various methods (including drownings in the not-quite-beautiful, not-quite-blue Danube), but he also saw occasional spontaneous acts of true generosity, which were all the more remarkable due to their infrequency. His recollections, related simply and directly, are narrated with an occasional mordant wit. Disguised as gentile, for example, the author sometimes distributed cigarettes and other provisions to Jews hiding out of sight—and he remarks that, in these instances at least, “the Jews got to see that there were still a few decent Christians.” Many of his people, of course, could never have passed themselves off as Christians (and some, no doubt, would have looked upon the very attempt as a betrayal), but Soros saw that there was only one way in which he could thwart the Nazis—by surviving.

A tale of resourcefulness outside the death camps—and another worthy addition to the still burgeoning literature of the Holocaust. (8 pp. b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55970-581-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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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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