Readers are given every bit of evidence available and will be hard-pressed to reach a verdict; it’s fun trying, though. Fans...

THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN

A new history of the trial of the late 19th century: Lizzie Borden (1860-1927), accused of the murder of her father and stepmother.

Robertson, a former Supreme Court clerk and legal adviser at The Hague, amply shows how the wheels of justice often move slowly, by small steps. First, there was an inquest, in which Lizzie testified along with her maid, Bridget Sullivan. Lizzie and her sister Emma were estranged from their father and, especially, their stepmother. They were also jealous of property their father had purchased for his wife’s sister; attempting to mollify them, unsuccessfully, he had deeded another property to them. Accounting for her morning, Lizzie offered differing statements about what she was doing. With Emma visiting out of town, it was only Lizzie who had the opportunity to kill both parents, even hours apart. After the inquest came Lizzie’s arrest and imprisonment, where she exhibited a stoic demeanor that would carry her from the preliminary hearing through the trial. She was self-possessed and unruffled, ready to accept whatever fate dealt her. While she did break down a few times, as when her father’s skull was presented, for the most part she seemed confident and intent on following every testimony. Constantly whispering in the ear of George Robinson, her lawyer, she seemed to treat the trial as an exercise in controlling what the jury was allowed to hear. Robertson presents the story with the thoroughness one expects from an attorney, but she manages to avoid the tedious repetitiveness inherent in a trial by providing close looks at other contemporaneous elements such as Lizzie’s attempt to buy poison, a newly discovered hatchet, and the contradictions of the prosecution’s witnesses.

Readers are given every bit of evidence available and will be hard-pressed to reach a verdict; it’s fun trying, though. Fans of crime novels will love it.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6837-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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