A captivating story smartly recounted.

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The accidental discovery of a private document begins a journey that reveals secrets of family members and strangers in this multifaceted memoir.

Krygier, a Los Angeles juvenile court judge, was on her way to work one day when she dropped by her parents’ house to find her mother conducting a cleanup campaign. Among the strewn paper, the author came across a file bearing the note: “Do Not Share This.” She surreptitiously grabbed the file and set off for court; however, she was hesitant to open it, fearing that it would reveal unbearable secrets about her family’s past. Days later, Krygier found a World War II–era postcard in an antiques mall, written by a British Army private and marked “do not disclose any particulars of your unit.” The message resonated with the author, and she began searching for details about the postcard’s sender—a quest that would later bring her to England. The book also slowly reveals details of the file’s contents as Krygier pieces together her family’s story of infidelity and Holocaust survival. Although written as a memoir, this book has all the suspense of a detective novel as the author hunts for the elusive British soldier and attempts to delay learning the truth about her own family. Along the way, she proves to be a master of the slow reveal, alluding to a night “when all hell broke loose” at the memoir’s opening and only gradually disclosing the details of what happened. Krygier also has a vibrant prose style and an eye for fine detail, characterized by her description of a typewriter: “The keys had to be struck hard. They were round, with a distinct rim, like tiny, old-fashioned spectacles. Each letter clattered downward and commandeered its own individual amount of ink from the ribbon, none uniform.” There are rare occasions when the author includes unnecessary information, such as automated responses to her internet searches, but such details of her setbacks make her successes even more enjoyable. This richly detailed memoir will particularly appeal to those whose imaginations are fired by genealogy and historical research.

A captivating story smartly recounted.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-742159-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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 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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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