A sharp, provocative memoir of an unlikely friendship.



A journalist’s account of his friendship with a man who was not only president of a motorcycle group, but also the boy who bullied him during childhood.

Abramovich met Trevor Latham, president of the East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club, when the two were fourth-graders growing up on Long Island. They often fought in the schoolyard, but as children from dysfunctional, single-parent homes, both boys also had a deep affinity for each other. Their contact ended when Abramovich moved with his often jobless father in sixth grade. It was not until years later that he reconnected with Trevor, who now lived in Oakland. On an assignment for GQ to do a story about their friendship, the author traveled from New York to experience Trevor’s blue-collar world of motorcycles and “systemized” violence. Once back in New York, however, the story would not let him go. So Abramovich returned to Oakland to work on a book about Trevor and the Rats, and a six-month visit eventually turned into a four-year stay. His investigations led him to explore Oakland’s history, from its origins as bucolic California land grant territory to its evolution into one of the most crime-infested cities in America. He also learned about the tortured history of the Rats and witnessed the bloody infighting that threatened to tear the group apart. Research eventually revealed that before films like Stanley Kramer’s The Wild One (1953) celebrated an underground subculture of leather and machismo, motorcycle associations in America had been called “sweater clubs” and had attracted the likes of Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. Thoughtful and engaging, Abramovich’s book suggests an intricate connection between an especially violent city and the “cracked, broken homes” that constitute them. Those homes ultimately give rise to “cracked, broken” children—like the author and Trevor—who seek makeshift families like the Rats or other gangs and take a “casual acceptance of bloodshed” as the status quo.

A sharp, provocative memoir of an unlikely friendship.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9428-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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