In the process of assimilating disparate facts into a poignant and elegant story, Adorján exposes her own hopes and fears,...

AN EXCLUSIVE LOVE

A MEMOIR

Berlin-based journalist Adorján’s debut examines why and how her grandparents committed suicide together, decades after they survived the Holocaust.

In life, Vera and Pista refused to discuss how Pista lived through his time in Mauthausen, the Nazi concentration camp notorious for its vast labor complex, or how Vera obtained the forged papers that allowed her to evade capture and give birth to Adorján’s father in a proper hospital. In her intrepid investigation, the author learned what she could from speaking to relatives and interviewing the few friends her grandparents left behind, elderly women who corroborated that her grandparents kept the world at arm’s length. Vera was convinced that no one but Pista loved her, and Pista was dependent on Vera in all practical affairs. Recollections from Adorján’s childhood depict a handsome, cultured couple who dressed impeccably and smoked incessantly. The essence of the grandparents’ relationship surfaces in their final-day preparations, which the author vividly imagines and intersperses throughout the book: Vera cleaning the house and wrapping gifts to bequeath to relatives, checking in periodically on Pista, who had been ill for some time. Between snoozing on the sofa and smoking cigarillos, he emptied pill capsules for consumption later. Final Exit, the 1991 bestseller about euthanasia, shaped the plan to ingest a lethal dosage of painkillers for which Pista, a former surgeon, wrote a prescription. However, Adorján suspects that her grandparents resolved never to live apart when they were still young. Her personal revelations make up for her inability to completely surmount the privacy her grandparents meticulously guarded. Feeling cheated out of the Jewish legacy her grandparents ignored once they were safe in Denmark, Adorján explores her Jewish identity by trying JDate, which proves unsuccessful, and traveling to Israel, where she found peace among the legions of Jews she had been seeking all along.

In the process of assimilating disparate facts into a poignant and elegant story, Adorján exposes her own hopes and fears, an added bonus.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-393-08001-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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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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