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Excellent biographies of Freud and some contemporaries.

A richly contextual look at Freud’s escape to London.

A lifelong resident of Vienna, Freud had no intention of leaving when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. In the end, he left because a team of admirers convinced him it was necessary. They persuaded Nazi authorities to let him go and got the reluctant British government to accept him and his entourage, 16 people in all. Though veteran journalist and author Nagorski delivers a riveting page-turner, German troops don’t enter Austria until Page 230, and Freud leaves on Page 254. Few readers will complain once they realize that the narrative is a fine biography of Freud. The author pays close attention to his subject’s early life and struggles and the development of psychoanalysis, which, focused on childhood sexuality and the unconscious, enraged as many as it fascinated and made Freud an international celebrity by 1900. Nagorski doesn’t ignore Freud’s early followers (Jung, Adler), many of whom who were out of the picture by the 1930s, but he maintains a sharp focus on a small group who remained loyal, again delivering complete, satisfying biographies that don’t emphasize the rescue. Perhaps the most significant of these characters was the Welsh physician Ernest Jones, Freud’s “most fervent disciple in the English-speaking world." Jones personally lobbied the British government, which, like most governments at the time, was unwilling to accept refugees from Nazism. Other members were Anna Freud, his youngest daughter, who became a leading child psychoanalyst but also devoted herself to his care throughout his long, ultimately fatal battle with cancer; Marie Bonaparte, a wealthy Parisian acolyte and analyst; William Bullitt, U.S. ambassador to France and a former patient and intense admirer; and Max Schur, Freud’s personal physician. The oddball addition Anton Sauerwald, a Nazi bureaucrat assigned to confiscate Freud’s assets, grew to admire and protect him.

Excellent biographies of Freud and some contemporaries.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982172-83-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises.

“The Mongols swept across the globe as conquerors,” writes the appreciative pop anthropologist-historian Weatherford (The History of Money, 1997, etc.), “but also as civilization’s unrivaled cultural carriers.”

No business-secrets fluffery here, though Weatherford does credit Genghis Khan and company for seeking “not merely to conquer the world but to impose a global order based on free trade, a single international law, and a universal alphabet with which to write all the languages of the world.” Not that the world was necessarily appreciative: the Mongols were renowned for, well, intemperance in war and peace, even if Weatherford does go rather lightly on the atrocities-and-butchery front. Instead, he accentuates the positive changes the Mongols, led by a visionary Genghis Khan, brought to the vast territories they conquered, if ever so briefly: the use of carpets, noodles, tea, playing cards, lemons, carrots, fabrics, and even a few words, including the cheer hurray. (Oh, yes, and flame throwers, too.) Why, then, has history remembered Genghis and his comrades so ungenerously? Whereas Geoffrey Chaucer considered him “so excellent a lord in all things,” Genghis is a byword for all that is savage and terrible; the word “Mongol” figures, thanks to the pseudoscientific racism of the 19th century, as the root of “mongoloid,” a condition attributed to genetic throwbacks to seed sown by Mongol invaders during their decades of ravaging Europe. (Bad science, that, but Dr. Down’s son himself argued that imbeciles “derived from an earlier form of the Mongol stock and should be considered more ‘pre-human, rather than human.’ ”) Weatherford’s lively analysis restores the Mongols’ reputation, and it takes some wonderful learned detours—into, for instance, the history of the so-called Secret History of the Mongols, which the Nazis raced to translate in the hope that it would help them conquer Russia, as only the Mongols had succeeded in doing.

A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises.

Pub Date: March 2, 2004

ISBN: 0-609-61062-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2003

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