A heartfelt biography of a Dutch concentration camp survivor that doesn’t fully live up to its extraordinary subject.

MY MOTHER'S WAR

THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF HOW A RESISTANCE FIGHTER SURVIVED THREE CONCENTRATION CAMPS

A daughter unearths her mother’s remarkable Holocaust story.

As a young woman, Taylor’s mother, Sabine Zuur, was a charming Dutch socialite who was madly in love with a pilot in the Royal Army. After her fiance left for a war from which he would never return, Sabine became involved in the Dutch resistance, helping to hide fellow resistance members in the Hague, where she lived at the time. “Sabine had an extensive and close-knit circle of friends, most of whom seemed determined to become involved with the Resistance, as was Sabine herself,” writes the author. “Like many others, she was strongly opposed to the ideals of the German Reich, and when an opportunity presented itself…to join the Resistance herself, she took it with both hands.” In 1943, Sabine was arrested and jailed in prisons in Amsterdam and Utrecht before being transferred to three different concentration camps: Amersfoort, Ravensbrück, and Mauthausen. During her time in the camps, Sabine both witnessed and endured unspeakable atrocities. She survived the final camp only because she caught the eye of a German prisoner whose chilling obsession with Sabine led him to care for her and several of her friends, including the doctor who would go on to deliver her two children when she was safely back at home in Holland. This riveting story is thoroughly researched and unsparingly frank about the cost of war. However, other than the letters she penned to her mother from two Dutch prisons, Sabine’s words are largely absent from the narrative, and the prose often lacks polish. Furthermore, Taylor defines Sabine primarly by her victimhood, providing readers with only hints of her life before the war, thereby creating a character that can feel both elusive and two-dimensional.

A heartfelt biography of a Dutch concentration camp survivor that doesn’t fully live up to its extraordinary subject.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-369-72043-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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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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