An unsugared account that demonstrates the admirable, unbreakable bond of friends, parents and countrymen.

A SLIVER OF LIGHT

THREE AMERICANS IMPRISONED IN IRAN

The three American hikers imprisoned in Iran in 2009 alternate relaying their versions of their scary, uncertain ordeal.

Trekking up a mountain in northern Iraqi Kurdistanm, the three 20-something Americans working in the Middle East as journalists and teachers wandered across the Iranian border and were thrown into prison, suspected of espionage. The two young men, friends Bauer and Fattal, were held for two years. Shourd, Bauer’s fiancee, was released after a year, and she employed her notoriety to get the others out. Indeed, they became convenient pawns in the ongoing political enmity between the United States and Iran, used to apply pressure where needed in discussing sanctions and nuclear arsenals. In their well-developed and detailed accounts, told in alternate first-person voices, the three remind the world how human, vulnerable and terribly isolated they were during their months of incarceration, when they knew little of what was going on in the outside world and existed day by day in an entrenched survival mode. Shuttled around blindfolded, with Shourd wearing hijab, they started several hunger strikes at first when the guards separated them and soon were transported to the dreaded Evin Prison in Tehran. Managing the guards was key, as was learning to stand up for themselves in terms of the small liberties they were allowed, such as spending a precious few hours together daily in the courtyard. Shourd endured solitary since she wasn’t allowed to mix with Iranians, while the two men roomed with each other and devised all kinds of mental-exercise games—e.g., studying Morse code and memorizing poetry. As a Jew, Fattal became more religiously observant in jail, and all three studied the Quran. All were critical of American government policy before their incarceration and emerged from their ordeal unbowed and outspoken.

An unsugared account that demonstrates the admirable, unbreakable bond of friends, parents and countrymen.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-547-98553-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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