An often affecting but sometimes-unconvincing recollection.


Debut author Wall recounts his father’s struggle with drug addiction and blames the CIA’s MKUltra program for his parent’s later mental illness.

Wall writes that he always idolized his father, Henry. Until the author was 16, the two were nearly inseparable; he would even accompany his physician dad on his rounds. The author’s admiration was understandable, as his father was impressively accomplished. Although it took him seven years to finish medical school, he established a successful practice, eventually founded a hospital, and served as a Georgia state senator in the mid-1940s. Before his election, Henry moved his family to Blakely, a town in southern Georgia; unlike many citizens there, Henry was a progressive Southerner who insisted on treating everyone, of all races, with respect. However, in the 1950s, his life spiraled into a tailspin after he became addicted to Demerol, a prescribed painkiller that he took to ease the chronic periodontitis in his gums and ulcer in his shin. Wall writes that his father desperately tried to hide his addiction but it soon became impossible—especially given his mounting financial troubles. His hospital eventually shut down and he was arrested, tried, and convicted for “obtaining narcotics by means of fictitious prescriptions.” He was sent to a prison hospital for rehabilitation, but after he was released, the author says, he was erratic, paranoid, and prone to delusions. Wall mounts a dual defense of his father, arguing that his trial was rigged by political adversaries and jealous doctors in the community, and that his parent’s mental deterioration was the result of experiments conducted on him in the prison hospital under the auspices of the infamous CIA program MKUltra. The author’s remembrance is a moving tribute to his father, and although he does express some bitterness, it’s always laced with loving tenderness. However, his expressions of admiration sometimes border on idolatry, which seems to affect some of his assessments. He presents a case that his father was a victim of experimentation with much greater confidence than the circumstantial evidence warrants, and he credulously accepts questionable assertions, such as Henry’s notion that his mail was being monitored by the government.

An often affecting but sometimes-unconvincing recollection.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5462-6857-4

Page Count: 194

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2019

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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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