A worthy contribution to the Civil War literature.

GRANT AND SHERMAN

THE FRIENDSHIP THAT WON THE CIVIL WAR

A well-crafted study of “two failed men with great potential” without whom the Civil War might have ended differently.

Flood (Hitler, 1989) opens with a dispiriting account of Ulysses S. Grant, the Mexican War hero and former Army captain who, in 1860 at the age of 38, found himself a clerk in a leather-goods store in northwestern Illinois; it would take a cataclysmic war for him to have a chance to redeem himself. As for Sherman, the beginning of the conflict found him heading a military school in Louisiana; after fighting at Bull Run, he was assigned to head a force on the Kentucky-Tennessee frontier, where he seems to have struggled with a few personal demons that for a time debilitated him. Sherman was relieved of command, the local papers reporting that he was insane; later, thanks to the efforts of Gen. Henry Halleck, Sherman was rehabilitated and eventually allowed to raise a division of his own. Assigned to the western campaign under Grant, Sherman got his first taste of his commander’s ways at Shiloh, where Sherman was prepared to counsel retreat but held himself from doing so when Grant replied to his remark, “We’ve had the devil’s own day of it, haven’t we,” with, “Yes. . . . Lick ’em tomorrow, though.” What was to have been Beauregard’s victory turned out to be a great Southern defeat, and the beginning of the end for the South. Flood’s overarching theme of Grant and Sherman’s friendship, born in fire, is sometimes swept under by a surfeit of Big Picture historical detail, but in those instances, the book becomes a careful survey of the Civil War in the West. Of interest to students of early modern warfare, in particular, is Flood’s account of how Sherman, always in close contact with Grant, conducted his scorched-earth campaigns in Georgia and South Carolina—and how both generals detested the press, a theme that resounds in our own time.

A worthy contribution to the Civil War literature.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-374-16600-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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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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