For connoisseurs of the Lost Generation—a well-tempered biography of the wealthy American couple who knew absolutely everybody, from Hemingway to Fitzgerald to Dos Passos to Picasso, and so on and on. Though Sara and Gerald Murphy both dabbled in the arts, their true genius was for friendship. As Sara once told F. Scott Fitzgerald: “I don—t think the world is a very nice place—And all there seems to be left to do is to make the best of it while we are here, & be VERY grateful for one’s friends—because they are the best there is, & make up for many another thing that is lacking.” Inherited wealth on both sides gave the Murphys the means and leisure to pursue this credo in style across two continents. They were always willing to help artists on the down and out with quiet gifts of money, but it was their ebullient parties that really cemented their reputation. Archibald MacLeish once wrote, “There was a shrine to life wherever they were . . . a kind of revelation of inherent loveliness.” Others were less kind: Hemingway repaid their friendship with slander in A Movable Feast, and they were the model for the Divers in Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. The marriage had its strains, including possible affairs, and Gerald’s probable homosexuality, but it was strong enough to survive any number of blows, including the death of two Murphy children. A former Viking Penguin executive editor turned writer, Vaill tries to make up for the secondary celebrity status of the Murphys by infusing their lives with a sorrowing Gatsbyesque grandeur. It’s an admirable, but not quite convincing, effort. Still her tale is told so well and so crammed with incident and revealing thumbnail sketches of the Lost Generation (often on their worst behavior), one tends to forget the relative unimportance of the Murphys themselves. (24 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 29, 1998

ISBN: 0-395-65241-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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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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