Flamboyant Harvard Law professor and appellate advocate Dershowitz (The Best Defense, Reversal of Fortune, etc.) writes engagingly and bluntly of the unique problems and challenges of being Jewish in general, and being Jewish in America in particular. With all the persuasiveness and ``chutzpah'' for which he has become renowned in his criminal-defense work, Dershowitz assails the view (which he contends is current among both Jews and gentiles of his generation) that American Jews are merely ``guests'' in a predominantly Christian America, and that American Jews must defer to views and sensibilities of non-Jewish citizens. He also rejects the notion that American Jews are ``second-class Jews'' simply because they live in the heterodox US and have not made aliyah (i.e., migrated to Israel). American Jews, he says, ``need not compromise either...Americanism or...Jewishness.'' Using as starting points personal anecdotes of his own childhood in the Orthodox community of Brooklyn, his education at Brooklyn College and Yale Law School, his brief period of law-firm practice, his Supreme Court clerkship, his academic career, and his involvement with such cases as the Jonathan Pollard spy case and a libel case against the anti- Semitic Polish Cardinal Glemp, Dershowitz explores issues of anti-Semitism, discrimination against Jews, and loyalty to Israel. Proudly, he urges American Jews to assert their own self- interest without guilt or fear. Occasionally, he exhibits an unfortunate tendency to vilify those who disagree with him (Noam Chomsky, Norman Podhoretz, Patrick Buchanan), but his narrative is absorbing, his discussions lively, and his arguments often convincing. An energetic and stimulating exposition of the primary political and cultural issues confronting Jewish Americans.

Pub Date: May 31, 1991

ISBN: 0-316-18137-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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