Harvard Law grad Thomas makes the case for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (no relation).

Just in time for the tenth anniversary of the contentious confirmation hearings that rocketed an obscure lawyer to fame (and to the highest court), this biography begins well with the compelling story of Clarence Thomas’s rise from absolute poverty in rural Georgia. The trail from Liberty County to Yale Law School, via a Catholic seminary in Missouri and Holy Cross University, was full of twists and disappointments that make understandable Thomas’s gradual drift to the right and his disregard for the truisms propounded by the liberal establishment, especially on matters of race. Unfortunately, the second half of this account doesn’t come close to matching what precedes it. Thomas’s years at the EEOC and on the Court are related in mind-numbing detail and assessed in unconvincingly laudatory terms; every action is built up into a stunning achievement. And while the author tries to give the impression of restrained neutrality, his bias becomes increasingly pronounced around the time of the Anita Hill affair, for which his account relies to a large degree on the work of David Brock, who has recently done a very public about-face on the issue. Although a conservative viewpoint is unobjectionable, it comes entwined here with a vituperative misogyny that raises serious doubts about the rest of the analysis. This is unfortunate, as the author offers some important insights into Thomas’s development. His supposedly copycat conservatism is revealed as something far richer, emanating from a black man with firsthand knowledge of American liberalism’s failures, and the justice comes off here as stubborn, droll, rebellious—precisely the opposite of the qualities for which he is so often maligned. By needlessly attacking women, however, the author makes it likely that reaction will focus not on Thomas’s growth as a judge but once again on his relationship with Anita Hill.


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-893554-36-8

Page Count: 614

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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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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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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