A highly readable social history that contains all of the juicy drama of a prime-time soap opera.

THE HUSBAND HUNTERS

AMERICAN HEIRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE BRITISH ARISTOCRACY

Downton Abbey fans will swoon over this trip through the privileged turn-of-the-century world of cash, class, and coronets.

Anyone seeking to fill the void left by the ending of the hit TV series need look no further than this comprehensive work penned by one of the period’s leading chroniclers. De Courcy (Margot at War: Love and Betrayal in Downing Street, 1912-1916, 2014, etc.) brings the Victorian and Edwardian eras vibrantly to life with her meticulously well-researched book, conveyed in an approachable prose style. Though the narrative’s central focus is the 454 American women who married into the British aristocracy between 1870 and 1914, the scope is far broader than just the ladies themselves. To demonstrate the complicated gender and class relations within the period, the author spends considerable time explaining the sociopolitical ramifications that led to these unusual marriages, some of which ended up being love matches. De Courcy explores everything from the differences in education for American girls versus their English counterparts to their value as progeny within their families, and she ably explains the particular fascination American women held for British nobles. In the 19th century, the right dress, jewels, upbringing, carriage, and conversation effectively demonstrated female power. Like Scheherazade, the author weaves tales of royalty, millionaires, dress makers, and social climbers who render the Edwardian era a tangled web of wealth and intrigue that continues to fascinate readers, filmmakers, and TV writers. Famous “dollar-princesses” Jennie Jerome and Consuelo Vanderbilt receive their own chapters, but the most entertaining sections center on lesser-known heiresses such as the Machiavellian Marietta Stevens and the irrepressible “marrying Wilsons.” The author’s occasional repetition of details—e.g., the girls’ physical characteristics—is unnecessary, but the approachable narration and attention to detail make up for any deficiencies.

A highly readable social history that contains all of the juicy drama of a prime-time soap opera.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-16459-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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