A gripping story of one family’s courage and resourcefulness under life-threatening conditions.



How one Jewish family from a small Polish village survived the Holocaust.

In her latest book, former Foreign Policy executive editor Frankel focuses on the Rabinowitz family of Zhetel, a “very happy little Jewish town” of about 5,000 during the 1930s. Morris and Miriam Rabinowitz had a large house on the town’s main street, with Miriam’s medicine shop on the main floor. Their two daughters, Rochel and Tania, were born about a year apart in the mid-’30s. Morris, a lumber merchant, had an intimate knowledge of the nearby woodlands, information that later became critical to the family’s survival. “His job took him to the town’s edges and deeper into the Polish Christian farming community, where Morris traded not just in lumber, but in the currency of relationships,” writes the author. Toward the end of the decade, life in Zhetel changed rapidly—first with the nonaggression pact between the Nazis and Soviets, leading to Russian occupation of the eastern section of Poland, and then with the German invasion in June 1941. The Germans targeted Polish Jews, crowding them into ghettos and murdering them in “selections” based on the victims’ short-term value to the occupiers. At one point, Miriam claimed to be the mother of a young boy from a nearby town who was there without his family, a courageous act that saved the boy from certain death. Recognizing the urgent need to get away from German control, the family escaped to hide in the nearby forest, where they survived the war despite terrible privations. Frankel follows the family after liberation, when, after failing to gain entry to Israel, they ended up in the U.S. Her book, based on interviews with family members and original documents, is full of telling details about life before, during, and after the Holocaust. While the central events are harrowing, the text has a gratifying ending. A gripping story of one family’s courage and resourcefulness under life-threatening conditions.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26764-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 22, 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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