THE COMING OF THE NEW DEAL

VOL. II - THE AGE OF ROOSEVELT

The Crisis of the Old Order, (1957) which launched this monumental assessment of a relatively contemporary era in American social, political and economic life, was an epitaph to a period which ran its opulent but progressively more ruinous course from 1919-1933. Upon that sustained and anguished epitaph — though independent of it- Schlesinger, probably the one historian who most fully realizes the structural and organic values of 20th century American history, recounts the tumultuous years of Roosevelt's first term. He analyzes the solid facts of Rooseveltian legislation, the cabinet personalities, and the kinds of administrative youngbloods surging upon Washington, the methods and tasks of economic recovery, the social the massive reorganization of labor, agriculture and Wall Street. But if Schlesinger details abundantly the circumstances, individuals, policies which signalized the early New Deal, he expresses, above all, the inspiring and inspiriting sense of rededication which came over the United States, the moral torments and gronings toward a new social conscience, the yielding of regionalism and the regional mind to the interests of the country as a whole, within a widening circle of the world community. Conservatives may feel that as a historian, Schlesinger's weakness is a tendency towards clutter, a lack of sensitivity in an indulgence toward trivial information which has comparatively little earnest relevance. They may even feel he is neither tidy nor consistent. But his great gift is in not letting the meaning and the magnificence of events be carried away by their own rushing and violent, tide. Schlesinger seizes and epitomizes, as perhaps no other American historian, the wonder and the consequence of his subject. The evolution of a president, the complexity of a man, come through with extraordinary perception. The Coming of the New Deal is impelling, an achievement as much in its sensitivity as in its scholarship. The selection as January Book of the Month (and for this reason postponed from its original December publication date) will give it the impetus it deserves. But on its own merits it is essential reading for this and any period and season.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 1958

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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