Here is an unsentimental family memoir that also elegizes Mt. Vernon Avenue, a mile-and-a-quarter strip that once saw its best days as the heartbeat of Columbus, Ohio's African-American community in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. Haygood, a Boston Globe reporter, is the author of two previous books, including an admired 1993 biography of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., King of the Cats. This book, an account of ``the common Burkes, the holding-on Haygoods,'' documents a sprawling urban, working-class African-American family with southern rural roots. These are people who juggle multiple jobs and scrimp to buy homes and to dress with style on Saturday night and Sunday morning. In 1968, as Haygood is entering adolescence, his spirited mother, Elvira, moves her brood from her parents' ramshackle house to a new, three-acre federal housing complex on the other side of town, closer to the glitter of Mt. Vernon Avenue's nightlife, where she too often drifts in search of glamour beyond her workaday world. The lure of the streets and easy living poses a constant threat to the Haygood siblings, but even when they succumb, some of them find a redemptive path through faith, family, and grit. What keeps Wil on his upwardly mobile path is a devotion to basketball. Ironically, his athletic skills are marginal, but he has the shrewdness to transfer to a more affluent and academically stronger high school, where he makes the team. To protect his eligibility to play sports, he gets himself into a federally funded summer enrichment program. Such improvisational efforts result in a scholarship to Miami University of Ohio. After graduation, a stint on the local black weekly newspaper, whose offices anchored the business community of Mt. Vernon Avenue, sets him on his eventual career course. With an unpretentious eloquence and humor, Haygood shows a deft ability to convey complex lives, a past era, and a memorable place. (20 b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 13, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-67170-1

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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