Loquacious, raving and madly provocative.



The nimble London-based author offers a loose-limbed set of disgruntled observations on the massively disruptive development that became the 2012 Olympic Village.

A resident of Hackney, in the area of London that has been destined for transformation by the Summer Olympics, Sinclair (Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report, 2009, etc.) has watched the development over the past few years with consternation and alarm. The heart of the area is Stratford, once a shambling, marshy mess of loading docks called Chobham Farm, where the author, then a fledgling poet and college graduate, worked as a day laborer in 1971. His first essays form a poignant reflection on this now-lost world of scrappy young transients eking out a hand-to-mouth existence unloading sea containers and loading lorries. Subsequently, the area was seized by what Sinclair believes was a nefarious “intimate liaison” between government and development, in a manner he compares both to the German model and to the Chinese system (in one chapter, a Chinese poet now living in London reflects on the similar “destruction of history” he witnessed in Beijing in preparation for the 2008 games). In “Ghost Milk,” the author examines the disturbance of long-settled industrial waste on the multi-acre site, which provoked an ecological disaster. Sinclair is a veteran trekker among the urban wasteland. Inspired by Peter Ackroyd’s 2007 film Thames: Sacred River, as well as by the work of J.G. Ballard, he took off by foot for a river walk to Oxford; more ambitiously, he traveled to the former Olympic sites in Berlin and Athens and to the Ballard holdings at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. American readers will be alternately delighted and disoriented by Sinclair’s spastic, giddy literary circumambulations.

Loquacious, raving and madly provocative.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-86547-866-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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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 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...


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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