A winning concluding volume in a series that does for Eleanor Roosevelt what Robert Caro has done for Lyndon Johnson.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, VOLUME 3

THE WAR YEARS AND AFTER, 1939-1962

Having already devoted more than 1,200 pages to the extraordinary life of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) in two previous installments, the skilled biographer offers the final volume.

Although the third book focuses on the period from 1939 to 1945, Cook (History/John Jay Coll., Graduate Center, CUNY; Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 2, The Defining Years, 1933-1938, 1999, etc.) also covers the remainder of Roosevelt's meaningful accomplishments and personal relationships until her death in 1962. No hagiographer, the author presents Roosevelt's strained personal relationships, occasional passive-aggressive behavior, moral equivocations due to electoral politics, and other less-than-admirable qualities. Overall, though, Cook shows Roosevelt as empathetic to the less fortunate in both America and overseas, relentlessly optimistic about eventually achieving world peace, courageous in the face of personal danger, and almost superhumanly energetic until her final year. What may resonate most for contemporary readers is Roosevelt's crusade for greater racial harmony. She did not merely offer lip service to racial equality; she modeled it in her friendships and in the issues she promoted to Congress and her husband, despite widespread discrimination against blacks that showed no signs of abating. Cook notes that while outlining the current volume, she chose to develop the metatheme of the first lady obsessing about "race and rescue." Because most of the narrative unfolds during World War II, Cook amply examines Eleanor's efforts to influence the decisions of her husband. The president and Eleanor had to negotiate a rocky personal relationship due to his philandering and her unusual romantic liaisons, but as partners in politics, the mutual respect between them never wavered. The final pages about Eleanor’s postwar activities seem overly telescoped, but that’s a minor quibble in this outstanding work of biography. Cook makes a strong case that her subject is the most influential first lady in American history and even the most influential woman in world affairs since at least 1900.

A winning concluding volume in a series that does for Eleanor Roosevelt what Robert Caro has done for Lyndon Johnson.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-02395-0

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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