A moving tribute to the evergreen lessons of the heart.

THE BEST OF US

A MEMOIR

An acclaimed novelist recounts how a brief late-life marriage taught her the meaning of partnership.

Maynard (Under the Influence, 2016, etc.) was a successful single woman in her late 50s who was “done with marriage” when she met Jim, a divorced San Francisco lawyer, on Match.com. Fit and handsome, Jim looked like he was “probably a Republican.” But from their first open-hearted conversation, Maynard knew he was different. Still, caution ruled her actions. She had been independent and casually dating for more than 20 years and “wasn’t sure I should try love anymore.” However, the more time she spent with Jim, who accepted and loved the foibles other men had not, the more she realized that he was her “long-awaited sweetheart.” He was the brave and loving “guard dog” who could give her the “big love” she had always wanted but never found. For the next year, they lived in a state of perpetual bliss. Nothing—not even past romantic and personal failures and family tensions—seemed to cast a shadow on their happiness. They married less than a year after they met and bought a beautiful home together, where they envisioned a future that included visits from grandchildren and harvesting olives from trees they would plant. Then, a year after they wed, doctors diagnosed Jim with pancreatic cancer. For the next 19 months, they embarked on a roller-coaster ride that took them from the pinnacle of hope to the depths of despair and finally to painful acceptance of Jim’s inevitable demise. Told through loving, minutely remembered details that celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime love, the narrative, which only occasionally descends into overly sappy territory (“tourists in the country of love”), immerses readers in a story that, even at its darkest, strives to find meaning in calamity, heartbreak, and loss.

A moving tribute to the evergreen lessons of the heart.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63557-034-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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