A masterful account of the beginnings of a unique man.

THE YOUNG T.E. LAWRENCE

Sattin (The Gates of Africa: Death, Discovery, and the Search for Timbuktu, 2004, etc.) details the early years of the man who loved the Arabian people and determined to free them from Turkish rule.

As a young man, even before his years at Jesus College at Oxford, T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935) developed a love of all things medieval, especially knights and castles. In 1906, as an 18-year-old, he bicycled 2,400 miles through France seeking medieval churches and doing brass rubbings. Even at this young age, his strength of character was obvious. His intense gaze, obsessive concentration and photographic memory helped him become a man who would succeed in being accepted and admired by all those he met. In 1909, Lawrence journeyed to Syria to explore crusader castles and research his thesis, which was titled “Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture.” He walked everywhere in the area for the entire summer, felt he could never be English again, and only left when he was robbed and beaten. His mentor, D.G. Hogarth, Director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, then led him into his happiest years, as an archaeologist. The author has explored and followed in the footsteps of Lawrence, and it shows in his deep understanding of his goals, why he did what he did and how he managed. Lawrence was assigned to the dig in Carchemish near the Euphrates searching for a method to reveal their cuneiform writings. He mastered Arabic and gained the respect of the natives, easily winning their appreciation through his abilities and fearlessness in the face of danger or hardship. Lawrence’s accomplishments in his youth are only the beginning of the legend, something he fiercely disdained; what he did after his 26th birthday is another story that readers hope Sattin will tackle.

A masterful account of the beginnings of a unique man.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0393242669

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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