The richness of detail, along with the photographs, reveal a marvelous story of endurance and fortitude.

SHANGHAI ACROBAT

A TRUE STORY OF COURAGE, PERSEVERANCE, AND ESCAPE FROM REVOLUTIONARY CHINA

An inspiring up-from-poverty memoir from a former acrobat for the Shanghai Acrobat Troupe.

Jingjing graduated from the Acrobatic School of Shanghai in 1961; like millions of other Chinese, he was forced to endure many of the cruel excesses of the Cultural Revolution. Dumped in an orphanage at age 2, never having known his parents or why they abandoned him, the author had lived in five orphanages by the time he was chosen at age 9 to be trained in the troupe. Possessing a small frame and a fierce determination to succeed, Jingjing ultimately worked his way up to become a preeminent performer of handstand tricks that few people in the world could achieve. “In order to make life more meaningful, one must look for hope, most of all in miserable times,” he writes. “From my first handstand performance in 1963 until 1980 when I finished my stage performances, no one surpassed me. I was abso­lutely determined to be number one.” The troupe traveled around the world before being targeted as decadent by Mao’s Red Guards, the administrators of his sweeping agenda of societal change. They visited Africa, European capitals, and, later, America, and Jingjing’s narrative offers a detailed, engaging account of a unique life: sometimes enchanting but always peripatetic and physically and mentally rigorous. Along with intensive, repetitive drills, the troupe had to absorb political lessons about the alleged superiority of China. However, when Jingjing traveled abroad, he saw clearly the dawning truth of scarcity, famine, poverty, and oppression in his own country. Ultimately, he was sent to a series of reeducation camps, where the harsh farm labor nearly ruined him physically. Sidelined for “suspicious thinking” and removed from performance and teaching, he was able to immigrate to Australia and start a new life as a revered teacher of a new generation of circus performers.

The richness of detail, along with the photographs, reveal a marvelous story of endurance and fortitude.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948062-74-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Apollo Publishers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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