Superbly written and nuanced narrative in which Hamilton’s experiences coalesce to overcome a burden of unjustified guilt.

THE HARBOR BOYS

A MEMOIR

Coming of age in the 1960s, the author struggles with the post–World War II angst of his German mother, the stern regimen of an Irish patriot father and the violent troubles that rend Ireland.

Hamilton’s initial burden, he recalls from this particular summer in his early teens, is the need to escape the stigma of having a German mother. Routinely hailed as “the Nazi” by local boys, he tries to fit in by somehow cloaking his identity—he’s always on the run, he recalls, “like Eichmann in Argentina.” There is no respite at home, ruled by a father who, despite his own English ethnicity, is obsessed with the loss of Irish identity under British repression, plus ongoing troubles in the North, and insists that only Gaelic be spoken by the family in the house. This, of course, precludes such things as listening to John Lennon. The author’s ultimate escape becomes the harbor where, with his friend and mentor Packer, he picks up summer work helping out Dan Turley, a tough old man who rents skiffs to tourists and goes out fishing in his own open boat. At the harbor, he feels, everyone has a new identity: “It’s goodbye to the killing news on the radio, goodbye to funerals and goodbye to crying. It’s goodbye to flags and countries.” But Turley is a Protestant, originally from the North; he has local enemies, in particular a Catholic fisherman named Tyrone. Their ongoing feud draws in Hamilton and Packer, who scheme ways to prove it is Tyrone who is cutting loose and vandalizing Turley’s boats. The somewhat mysterious drowning of Tyrone, whose body washes up from the sea, puts an end to the affair but brings the author a revelation of having finally “won” his own innocence by, essentially, growing up.

Superbly written and nuanced narrative in which Hamilton’s experiences coalesce to overcome a burden of unjustified guilt.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-078467-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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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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