Despite its many virtues, this memoir is simply too idiosyncratically detailed to be of general interest.

FULFILLING A DREAM

THE ULTIMATE LAW DEGREE

A veteran lawyer recounts his decision to return to school to earn a doctorate in law.

At 72, after about 45 years of practicing as a lawyer, Hopkins (Nonprofit Governance: Law, Practices, and Trends, 2009) made a decision that bewildered and frustrated his colleagues: He went back to school. He had already obtained the only two other academic degrees in law available: a JD and an LLM, the equivalent of a master’s. In pursuit of his dream, he enrolled at the University of Kansas Law School, where he was teaching a course as an adjunct (it sometimes happened that a student or two was also a classmate). Hopkins’ charming remembrance splits into two narrative threads: his career as a lawyer before his decision to return to school and his coursework in pursuit of the doctorate. His professional life is a study in the marriage of disciplined hard work and happenstance. He was tasked by his employer with keeping notes on the congressional hearings devoted to the Tax Reform Act of 1969, which not only led to his legal specialization, but also opportunities to teach, lecture, and publish. (Hopkins has written more than 30 books.) He provides an excruciatingly detailed account of the coursework he completed prior to his dissertation work as well as a minute account of the dissertation itself. The author graduated in 2016 and includes written sentiments from friends and colleague as well as poem (of sorts) reflecting on the experience in its completion. Hopkins is an experienced writer, and so it’s no surprise that his prose is consistently clear, though it’s also companionably informal and lighthearted. It’s not clear to whom this recollection is addressed—while his unusual experience is likely to be instructive and inspiring to other lawyers, the microscopic account of his coursework won’t win wide appeal. He quotes his course textbooks frequently and seems driven by a desire to achieve exhaustive comprehensiveness more than readability. Some will find his reasons for his peculiar decision wanting as well—he wanted a challenge—especially given its centrality to the book. 

Despite its many virtues, this memoir is simply too idiosyncratically detailed to be of general interest. 

Pub Date: May 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4809-6044-2

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2018

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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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