Thin on revelations.

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AFTER FIDEL

THE INSIDE STORY OF CASTRO’S REGIME AND CUBA’S NEXT LEADER

Breaking news from the intelligence community: When the Cuban president leaves the planet, things will change—or they won’t.

Latell has been a CIA Castro-watcher for as long as Castro has been in power, and he has a wry knowingness about the dangers of dogma and certitude. Though he notes that the most loyal audiences for Castro’s interminable speeches have been “us, the anonymous American intelligence analysts working in distant cubicles, parsing his every word,” he allows that there’s much guesswork involved in trying to figure out what makes the bearded one tick. One issue: When did Castro become a communist? Some have ascribed the hard-left turn to bad dealings with the militantly anticommunist Richard Nixon; others say that Castro was born red. Latell adds nuance to the argument by noting that Castro was inclined to the left as early as 1948, but despised the Cuban Communist Party’s cautious leadership; the marriage was one of convenience, at least at first. Another issue: Who will succeed Castro? Latell bets on Raul Castro, the brother with whom Fidel has had an uneasy relationship from their earliest years. Latell hazards that Fidel could not have held power for so long without the backing of Raul, the head of Cuba’s military and a man apparently unafraid of executing his opponents without asking questions. Yet, he adds, Raul Castro shows certain liberal signs that hint that he may emerge in a post-Fidel scenario as someone the West can do business with—if, that is, Raul Castro even wants to be anything more than a transitional boss. Whatever the case, after Fidel’s demise, writes Latell, Raul “will finally be able to express himself without fear that he will disappoint Fidel.” In other words, we’ll have to wait and see.

Thin on revelations.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4039-6943-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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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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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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