An awkwardly written but genuinely inspiring memoir of a disabled Rwandan educator.

FREDERICK

A STORY OF BOUNDLESS HOPE

A powerful Rwandan memoir of survival and transcendence, reduced to an oddly dry little book.

In this debut memoir, Ndabaramiye, with the assistance of children’s book author Parker (My Christmas List, 2013, etc.), describes his personal experience in the Rwandan genocide and how he has rebuilt his life in the service of others like himself. In the immediate aftermath of the genocide, he was one of a busload of travelers captured by a terrorist militia. They commanded the teenage Ndabaramiye to kill his fellow prisoners with a machete. When he refused on grounds of his religion, he was forced to watch the rest of the group murdered by the militia, who then hacked off his hands and left him to be stoned to death by children. He escaped, found help and was treated by an experienced surgeon at an overwhelmed hospital. Without hands or a family able to support him, he despaired; however, through a fresh embrace of his religion, he found the will to recover. He was accepted by an American-run orphanage, and there, he learned to care for himself and to write, draw and teach. In time, he made connections that helped him co-found a community center and primary school to help other disabled people make the most of their abilities. Ndabaramiye has a solid evangelical Christian worldview, but this should not put off non-Christian readers; his resilience and dedication to the service of others is inspiring. Stories like these need no elaborate presentation, but the author’s calm, straightforward style sometimes slides into a bare-bones narrative that can obscure and distance the events, places and characters he describes. In addition, the book is marred by odd language constructions that do not serve the author’s purpose—e.g., a reference to how he and his partners “concepted a Learning Center.”

An awkwardly written but genuinely inspiring memoir of a disabled Rwandan educator.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-529-10119-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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