DREAMS OF THE HEART

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF PRESIDENT VIOLETA BARRIOS DE CHAMORRO OF NICARAGUA

An anecdotal memoir by the present democratically elected leader of Nicaragua. Chamorro came to politics accidentally. Although born, like her husband, into the ``top echelons of Nicaragua's social structure,'' the descendant of European landowners, she came to sympathize with the plight of the Indian majority after marrying Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, editor of the liberal newspaper La Prensa. Pedro's murder in 1978 at the hands of the government of Anastasio Somoza, whom he had regularly criticized in print, thrust her into the tumult of revolutionary politics. After the Sandinista rebellion overthrew Somoza, Chamorro became a leader of the loyal opposition, watching as Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega ``turned into a black-shirted party boss with a red bandana around his neck.'' Many of her fellow citizens evidently shared her dismay, and she became president of the country, having won by a large margin in a 1990 race thought certain to go to the Sandinistas. (``Theirs,'' she points out, ``was a $20 million campaign handled by a top American public relations team, ours a campaign run on a shoestring budget.'') Among the high points of the book are Chamorro's firsthand reports of infighting among the Sandinista leadership, torn by complex rivalries that led one hero of the war against Somoza, Comandante Zero, to be excluded from postwar rule. She also provides ample—and remarkable—details on the labyrinthine ways in which American aid dollars filtered down to the coffers of democratic organizations, certainly less generously than they did to the contra fighters. Chamorro is sometimes too fond of unmeaty apothegms, and her book is marred by a translation that is at times jarringly unidiomatic. Yet it provides a close look at the inner workings of a government and a nation in transition, led by a woman of obvious bravery and good will. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-81055-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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