The story of a black Russian's life in pre-glasnost Russia, and of her quest to discover and connect with her American and African roots. Khanga is the third generation of her family to live in Russia. Her African-American grandfather and Warsaw-born Jewish grandmother left the US in the 1930's to help build a new Soviet Union. After Khanga's mother—a biracial child—was born, they decided to remain in exile rather than raise the girl in what they saw as an intolerant America. Khanga's mother married an African (later to become the first vice-president of Zanzibar) but remained in the Soviet Union to raise the author. Here, Khanga's powerful voice explains the difficulty of developing a self-image in a country where the predominate images are of blue eyes and blond hair; where knowledge of her cultural heritage was sustained only through dialogue with her mother; and where the fact of her American and Jewish ancestry had to be suppressed in order to ensure the welfare of herself and her family. Chronicling three generations of racial and ethnic pride, Khanga turns a critical eye toward racism, feminism, Communism, and democracy, and examines these ideas and institutions as they relate to her experiences in the US and abroad. She speculates that being a member of an unthreatening minority in the Soviet Union is a quite different experience from being raised in the US, where sheer numbers alone would give one a different perspective—but in her view, neither Russia nor the US is a land of milk and honey. Winning a Rockefeller fellowship enabled Khanga to travel to America and Africa in search of her cultural roots. As a result, she learned family secrets, reconciled herself to her multicultural past, and began to develop a new racial consciousness. Insightful, poignant, and rife with honest revelations. (Photographs—32 pp.—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 1992

ISBN: 0-393-03404-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?