It doesn’t substitute for a true travel guide, but anyone who loved and misses Bourdain will want this book.

WORLD TRAVEL

AN IRREVERENT GUIDE

Posthumous selection of Bourdain’s thoughts on places exotic and well known, blended into a kind of Baedeker for the hipster set.

There’s Frankensteining at work here, with Woolever, who worked with Bourdain for nearly 10 years, surrounding his pithy excerpts with the kind of dryly useful information of a standard guidebook—e.g., “Buenos Aires is well served by bus routes, along with a seven-line underground metro system known as Subte, which links the downtown to the outer reaches of the city.” When Bourdain kicks in, it’s of a different order: “Argentina has the distinction of being home to more head-shrinkers per capita than anywhere else in the world….It’s an extraordinary thing, because in many cultures, to confess that you need to even confide in someone is seen as a sign of weakness. Here, everybody does it, and in no way frowns upon it.” That’s an interesting datum, the kind of thing you tuck away for future reference. Bourdain went to see one of those psychiatrists, confessing, “I feel like Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame—if he stayed in nice hotel suites with high-thread-count sheets.” Considering his sad end, the words are revealing. Where Bourdain traveled, drink and excessive eating were sure to follow. In Finland—a place full of people “tough enough to fight off Nazis and Russians”—he ate mystery meat that put “the self-loathing back into drinking” while in Hanoi, Vietnam, for which he had “a deep, abiding love,” he taught Barack Obama how to slurp noodles, with a belly-stuffing meal and beer running about $6: “I’m guessing the president doesn’t get a lot of state dinners like this.” Bourdain went nearly everywhere on the planet, eating and drinking prodigiously along the way. It makes for an exhilarating whirlwind tour, complete with charmingly impressionistic sketches by Allsbrook.

It doesn’t substitute for a true travel guide, but anyone who loved and misses Bourdain will want this book.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-280279-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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 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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