One too many war stories, but fun for political junkies. (16 pp. photos, not seen)

PASSION FOR TRUTH

FROM FINDING JFK’S SINGLE BULLET TO QUESTIONING ANITA HILL TO IMPEACHING CLINTON

After confessing that he has a “fetish for facts,” Senator Specter (R-Penn.) proceeds to dish up plenty of them in this hefty memoir.

As Specter tells it, the hallmark of his four decades in public service is a commitment to finding the truth regardless of the political consequences. In his view, “when people can agree on the facts and what is true, they can agree on what should be done in a just society.” While this sounds reasonable enough, the senator’s memoirs illustrate how elusive truth can be. Most of the issues he discusses in depth, ranging from the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas to President Clinton’s impeachment, produced lots of facts but very little consensus on what was true. That reservation aside, Specter offers a great deal of information about his role in some of the more interesting investigations in recent history, beginning with the Kennedy assassination and ending with the impeachment. Inevitably, a memoir by a sitting politician will be somewhat self-serving. Certainly readers who disagree with Specter’s positions will tire of hearing about how ferreting out the truth and voting his conscience have allowed him to rise above the ranks of his venal colleagues. Also, the senator has a tendency to digress, sapping the story of its narrative momentum. In the middle of discussing Anita Hill, for instance, he lapses into an unrelated recollection about the 1988 presidential race. But most of us have learned to expect some wind when talking to a pol.

One too many war stories, but fun for political junkies. (16 pp. photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-019849-4

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more