Sumptuous account of Revolutionary Europe.

DANCING TO THE PRECIPICE

THE LIFE OF LUCIE DE LA TOUR DU PIN, EYEWITNESS TO AN ERA

The sensational story of a woman whose enduring spirit encapsulates one of the most dynamic periods of modern European history.

Drawing on a detailed memoir and boxes of letters, historian and biographer Moorehead (Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, 2005, etc.) re-creates the tumultuous life of Lucie Dillon. Raised by her unhappy and spiteful grandmother, Lucie quickly developed into a resourceful, level-headed girl. These qualities would prove indispensable as she entered adulthood and faced the many dangers and challenges of 18th-century Europe. Still in her teens when she married Frédéric de la Tour du Pin, Lucie was thrust into a whirlwind of salons, fashion, gossip and royal etiquette, mingling with the likes of Marie Antoinette, Talleyrand and Lafayette. The young woman earned their adoration and respect as she grew into her role as an elegant hostess and wife. As political tumult grew around her, she was forced to flee France and forge a new identity as an émigré. For the remainder of her days, her intrepid character would see her through the reigns of Robespierre and Napoleon; exiles in America, England, Belgium and Italy; the death of five of her children; and periods of extreme hardship and poverty. Throughout decades of uncertainty, the one enduring element was her husband, with whom she shared nearly 50 years of marriage, and who on his death bed extolled her “bottomless reserves of courage.” Moorehead deftly navigates a dizzying cast of characters, locations and events, allowing Lucie’s “precise, cool eye” and discerning wit to shine through.

Sumptuous account of Revolutionary Europe.

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-168441-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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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