A painstaking documentation of a relentless culture of corruption.

AMERICAN OLIGARCHS

THE KUSHNERS, THE TRUMPS, AND THE MARRIAGE OF MONEY AND POWER

A wide-ranging exposé of “the crashing of norms and laws and the mixing of family and business that is the Trump administration.”

Unlike many other mainstream journalists, Peabody-winning Trump, Inc. podcast host Bernstein, who has been digging into the Trump and Kushner family businesses for years, never hesitates to label Donald Trump a liar, a perjurer, and a felon who has escaped imprisonment for his numerous business crimes. (The author pays little attention to the multiple accusations against Trump as a serial sexual assaulter, which have been reported in depth elsewhere.) Bernstein documents how much of her scathing critique of the current president also applies to Trump’s father, his two adult sons, and his daughter, Ivanka, who linked the Trumps to the Kushner clan through her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner. According to Bernstein’s carefully documented research, Jared has morphed from a mostly upright, nonpolitical New Jersey real estate developer into a right-wing tyrant and congenital liar. Already well known before this book was the criminal conviction of Jared Kushner’s father for business fraud, but Bernstein provides useful added detail regarding the Kushners’ many misdeeds. She also sticks to the facts and avoids partisan politics: After all, for most of their lives, members of the Trump and Kushner clans identified more as Democrats than Republicans, though they gave campaign contributions to politicians of all ideologies while trying to buy influence that would benefit their real estate empires. Of all the characters Bernstein exposes in this necessarily hard-hitting book, Ivanka is the only one who comes across as willing to rise to power through honest work rather than just her family name. The author, who conducted hundreds of interviews and read more than 100,000 documents to create this damning portrait of two clearly unscrupulous families, credits investigative journalists before her, especially Wayne Barrett, whose 1992 Trump biography exposed his decades of nefarious business and personal dealings.

A painstaking documentation of a relentless culture of corruption.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00187-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

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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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