His pains linger, Wiesel writes, but “if I forget them for a while, they quickly remind me of their presence.” Just so, a...

OPEN HEART

Having survived the Holocaust and Bernard Madoff, Nobel Prize–winning novelist and memoirist Wiesel (Hostage, 2012, etc.) faces mortality in this slender, elegant meditation.

A few days short of the beginning of summer in 2011, Wiesel, complaining of acid reflux, went to see a gastroenterologist, who immediately pronounced, “It’s your heart.” There was no time to waste, he added, though Wiesel, with characteristic resolve, took a few hours to cancel appointments and otherwise clear his calendar against the possibility that he might never return to it. Wheeled to the operating room, he instructed the anesthesiologist to wait until he recited the Shema Yisrael, upon finishing which he said, in a small voice, “Now I am yours.” The procedure, a matter of opening the chest to expose and repair the heart, went without incident, though it left Wiesel weak for a long time thereafter—and made him walk, he complains, like an old man, grumbling, “after all, I am only eighty-two!” It is mostly the metaphysical and not physical aftereffects that concern him here, though: He wrestles with God while remembering to say his prayers (and the one-word exchange he proposes to hold with God on their encounter is worth reading this small book to get to); he wrestles with the events of the years and with his regrets, not least of which, touchingly for a longtime professor, is having to cancel class on account of illness. Though he recognizes that the clock is ticking, the conclusion of Wiesel’s little book is eminently hopeful and, indeed, as inspirational as anything he has ever written.

His pains linger, Wiesel writes, but “if I forget them for a while, they quickly remind me of their presence.” Just so, a most memorable book.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-96184-6

Page Count: 98

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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