Wiesel’s memoir, first published in English in 1960, has emerged as a classic work of literature from that darkest of eras,...

NIGHT

A MEMOIR

A reissue of Wiesel’s (Open Heart, 2012, etc.) foundational, exemplary memoir of the Holocaust.

Even though bracketed by post-mortem appreciations by Barack Obama, genocide scholar and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, and Wiesel’s son Elisha and including Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech and lecture and a commemorative address before the U.N., Night is a slender book, just a shade more than 100 pages long. But it packs a whole world—perhaps better, a whole inferno—into that brief span, much trimmed from a draft reported to be eight times longer. As the memoir opens, Wiesel is a schoolboy in a Transylvanian town, studying with a wise scholar named Moishe the Beadle, who liked to say, “Man comes closer to God through the questions he asks Him.” The great question that emerges as events sweep in, brought to Sighet on German troop transports and Hungarian police vans, is, of course, why? No fully satisfactory answer ever emerges from Wiesel’s tour of the hell that ensues, as the ghetto—“ruled by neither German nor Jew; it was ruled by delusion”—gives way to the concentration camp and its endless brutalities, administered by Germans and kapos alike. As he recounts the flight before the advancing Red Army deep into a collapsing Germany, Wiesel draws on the voices of many of his fellow inmates, one of whom memorably says of Adolf Hitler, “he alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” Only the promise of utter extermination goes unfulfilled, leaving the author to contemplate the dead man walking that he has become when the camp is finally liberated: “The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.”

Wiesel’s memoir, first published in English in 1960, has emerged as a classic work of literature from that darkest of eras, and it deserves to be read and reread for decades to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-22199-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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