An extraordinary mix of wartime history and personal remembrance.



In this debut memoir, Gustaitis recalls her family’s flight from Eastern Europe during World War II and her father’s disappearance.

The author, a former reporter for the Washington Post, writes that she enjoyed a “peaceful and comfortable childhood” in Kaunas, Lithuania, until the fateful day in 1940 when she learned that Russian forces had invaded her country. Her father, Antanas, was a brigadier general and chief of the Lithuanian air force; he devised a plan for the family to escape to Argentina via Poland and Germany, but when they left the country, he stayed behind, planning to rejoin them later. The author fled with her mother, Bronislava, and never saw her father again. Before this, the author says, she was “oblivious” to the war’s impact on her part of the world, but no longer; although they briefly escaped to Germany, they soon returned to Lithuania to try to find Antanas, to no avail. They lived under Nazi occupation there for nearly four years and then had to leave again when Russian forces returned at the war’s conclusion. She longed for a return to what her mother called “The Time Before”—an aching desire that Gustaitis depicts in heartbreaking, poignant terms: “Of course, I thought, the war would soon end. Then the Russians would leave our country; Lithuania would again be free. And then my father would return...he would find his way back, and so would we.” Decades later, once the Soviet Union crumbled, the author returned to Lithuania to learn the tragic fate of her father at the hands of the Soviet secret police. This is a rare book, written by a gifted author: a thoughtful and rigorous rendering of history and a deeply candid recollection of survival against formidable odds. Over the course of this work, Gustaitis conveys, in affecting, elegiac language, not only the plight of her own family, but of an entire country in turmoil. In addition, the work serves as a beautiful homage to the author’s mother, who repeatedly proved to be both “resourceful and brave” throughout their journeys.

An extraordinary mix of wartime history and personal remembrance.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73770-510-9

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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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 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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