A welcome and heartfelt effort. We eagerly await the day when Giffords herself can more fully flesh out her story.

GABBY

A STORY OF COURAGE AND HOPE

Moving, sometimes belabored memoir, mostly by astronaut Kelly, of Giffords' miraculous recovery after narrowly surviving an assassination attempt.

That shooting, in Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011, left Giffords with a massive head wound and severe trauma to the brain. Nonetheless, as most readers know, she bravely returned to the floor of Congress to cast her vote in the last budget battle. By summer she was well enough, Kelly reveals, that she was able to give map directions in her hometown. Yet the road to recovery has been grueling and sometimes dispiriting: “ ‘It’s awful,’ Gabby will say, and I have to agree with her.” Of the shooter himself, so much in the news, we learn little in these pages; understandably, it seems that Kelly and Giffords do not wish to accord him any space in their book. What they offer instead is a detailed, sometimes diary-like record of recovery that is nothing but inspirational, as well as an account of a marriage of two ambitious and extremely busy people. Kelly is evenhanded, but he clearly places some responsibility for his wife’s shooting on the overheated politics of the day. Her opponent was fond of hoisting automatic weapons as a sign of his toughness, while Sarah Palin placed rifle-scope targets on Giffords’ district. Even after the shooting, politics prevailed. Kelly notes that while former President George H.W. Bush, who was out of office long before Giffords entered politics, made efforts to visit her in the hospital, Speaker of the House John Boehner did not, even when he was in Houston for other reasons. Kelly’s prose—how much he owes to near–ghost writer Zaslow we do not know—is mostly workmanlike; the only spark we get is when we hear Giffords in her own words, as when she notes simply, “It was hard but I’m alive…I will get stronger. I will return.” And there are many moments that don’t seem to have a place except as filler, mostly having to do with Kelly’s experiences before the couple met.

A welcome and heartfelt effort. We eagerly await the day when Giffords herself can more fully flesh out her story.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6106-4

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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