SOMETHING TO PROVE

A DAUGHTER'S JOURNEY TO FULFILL A FATHER'S LEGACY: A MEMOIR

Follow-up to the author’s bestselling The Ditchdigger’s Daughters (1995).

In her previous book, Thornton (Obstetrics and Gynecology/New York Medical Coll.) described how her working-class parents insisted that their five daughters do well in school and grow up to become doctors, which four of them did. This book begins in the early 1980s, as the author, then one of a handful of black female obstetricians in the country, joined New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center as an assistant professor in obstetrics-gynecology. She was marginalized, assigned a basement office and encountered mistreatment by colleagues that would plague much of her career at several New York–area hospitals. Ambitious and assertive, Thornton draws strength from her upbringing and perseveres in her quest for success. In her dingy digs, she improved the hospital clinic and built a thriving private practice. She won promotion to associate professor after threatening to resign upon learning that a former resident of hers “with the Cornell boys’ club ‘look’—tall, blonde, handsome, and well dressed” had been elevated to that rank. Later, on encountering bias at other hospitals, she recalled her father’s observation, “Builds character, Cookie, builds character.” Much of the book focuses on Thornton’s work as a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine and her efforts to carry on the family tradition by encouraging her two gifted children to aspire to medical careers. As the book closes, Woody, a national chess champion, has graduated from medical school and plans to enter academic medicine; Kimberly is a medical student; and Thornton is a full professor—a post held by only 12 percent of female doctors—at a suburban medical college. While her story will undoubtedly attract fans of her earlier memoir, the author’s relentless drive to overachieve—and her insistence that her own privileged children become physicians—may seem disconcerting to some readers, as if she had learned her father’s lessons only too well. But then, as she writes, the idea was always to “pull so far ahead that nothing and no one could hold us back.”

Candid and well-written.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60714-724-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Kaplan Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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