A book Talbot likely wrote mainly for himself, but it should provide inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL

THE STORY OF MY STROKE

A near-death, new-life memoir by the San Francisco author and founder of Salon.

In short chapters that had their genesis on Facebook, Talbot (The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government, 2015, etc.) recounts a year of recovery, upheaval, and transformation following the stroke that almost killed him. He also reflects on the pace of the stress-filled career that brought him to this precipice, in his mid-60s, while he was still trying to navigate his way through considerable Hollywood challenges in attempting to bring his books to the screen. As the hard-charging CEO and editor-in-chief of Salon, he championed progressive investigative journalism at a time when the industry was heading toward a financial abyss. “I believed then that Salon was worth dying for. We were caught up in history’s hurricane,” he writes, with the somewhat messianic self-importance that occasionally typifies his tone. (Talbot also compares himself to the revered mystic monk Thomas Merton, though “not religious.”) Though the author is a Type A personality in overdrive, his lessons should strike a responsive chord in many readers. “My stroke did not just change my life,” he writes. “It saved my life.” By necessity, he slowed down, he lost a lot of weight, and he pared his existence down to the essentials and became focused on what really matters. He made his peace with death. He learned to “live each moment like it’s your last, because it just might be. Embrace your mortality. Even celebrate it. And let the shadow of death make the light in your life only seem brighter.” These are the sort of sentiments upon which countless self-help books are constructed, but Talbot demonstrates the conviction of someone who has been there and back and now knows what is really at stake.

A book Talbot likely wrote mainly for himself, but it should provide inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8333-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chronicle Prism

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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 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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