A best-seller in Japan, and soon to be a movie, Japanese writer Ishikawa's book about his mid-60's California sojourn is full of those tiresome generalities that hinder rather than help international understanding. Fresh out of high school, Ishikawa came to America to live with his oldest brother, Anchan, a farmer. He planned to attend a local high school to improve his English and then proceed to college. While he did this, he would work on the farm with his brother and earn his keep. And so he does, but the America he has read about and the America his brother has described are very different from reality. Like all immigrants, he is soon aware of the inevitable gap between his native past, with all its rooted associations and history, and his more nebulous immigrant status. As he picks strawberries with migrant Mexican workers, meets the local Japanese, attends school, has an affair with an older Japanese woman who had married an American, and travels, he comments confidently on what he perceives to be the differences between the two countries. Unlike in Japan, he finds American conversations are one-sided; Americans tackle problems head-on; and American constantly fight for justice. Less persuasive are his analyses: people without credit cards are rejected by society; the country is idealistic because immigrant men came here first, then summoned their women; and all American behavior is shaped by growing up in a ``jostling immigrant society where everyone is a talker.'' Ishikawa's vignettes of Japanese immigrant life are valuable, as are his opinions about Japan, but sweeping and simplistic statements about American life and history seriously undermine his book.

Pub Date: April 1, 1991

ISBN: 4-7700-1551-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Kodansha

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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 19, 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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