A fully realized, important portrait of a significant 20th-century leader.

MENACHEM BEGIN

A LIFE

The “first full-scale biography” of Israel's controversial Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1913–1992).

Israel Hayom op-ed page editor Shilon compellingly integrates his subject’s life story and his contributions into the origins and growth of the state of Israel. Born in Brest-Litovsk, Begin escaped after his family was murdered by the Nazis; he was subsequently imprisoned by the Soviets. Released to fight for the Jewish units of the Anders Army, he was deployed to the Palestinian territories. There, he joined the Jewish underground, rising to leadership in the Irgun faction, which was responsible for blowing up the British headquarters at the King David Hotel. Shilon provides a fascinating account of Begin's government service between 1977 and 1983, including what became known as the “Begin doctrine,” under which Israel committed to not allowing “our enemies to develop weapons of mass destruction,” as well as the parallel peace agreement with Anwar Sadat's Egypt, for which Begin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The author’s account of the earlier conflicts over how to fight, who the enemy was, and what Israel would be shows how his subject participated in shaping the political lineups within the country for years after his tenure. Marginalized politically for many years and ridiculed by David Ben-Gurion and members of the Mapai, Begin was recalled from the fringes to government service prior to the outbreak of the 1967 war. Subsequently, he worked closely with Ariel Sharon and a group of generals, who helped him to victory and joined his coalition. Shilon demonstrates how Begin's religious conceptions greatly affected his country's political landscape.

A fully realized, important portrait of a significant 20th-century leader.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-300-16235-6

Page Count: 584

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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