Very likely the last word on the late prime minister, whose legacy is still playing out in Britain today.

MARGARET THATCHER

HERSELF ALONE: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, VOLUME 3

The third installment in Moore’s densely packed, endlessly revealing life of the Iron Lady.

Continuing a story that, though skillfully told, runs very long, Moore begins in the late spring of 1987, when Margaret Thatcher has just won her third victory in the general election. Electoral contests in Britain, he reminds us, are “parliamentary, not presidential, and are based on parties, not individual leaders.” Nevertheless, it is indisputable that Thatcher won on the strength of steely charisma and achievements that lifted British spirits, from overseeing the end of a long recession to securing victory in the Falklands War. Things were vastly different in 1990, when British voters took an overwhelmingly different view of her: They were, Moore writes, “unimpressed by divisions over Europe, the return of double-digit inflation and the perceived injustices of the poll tax.” Worse yet, Thatcher had become personally unpopular as well, seen as someone who had simply stopped listening to the people. When she entered her third term, her approval rating was 52%, but at the end, it was below 33%. Spy scandals and the morale-sapping conflict in Northern Ireland did not help matters. Engineered out of the leadership of the Conservative Party by challengers such as John Major and Michael Heseltine, Thatcher was not shy about nursing grudges, considering Major to be “a nice, useless man, who cannot lead.” Moore shows that her last years in office were not without their own accomplishments, including cementing a renewed relationship with the United States and helping bring about the fall of the Soviet Union and an end to the Cold War. Nonetheless, the author also points to the failures of Thatcher’s brand of libertarianism, characterized by the mantra “diffuse, disperse, devolve.” That strain of politics has lingering effects in a Conservative Party still tinged with Thatcherism, with such results as Brexit and the specter of a U.K. that will perhaps soon be disunited.

Very likely the last word on the late prime minister, whose legacy is still playing out in Britain today.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-94720-3

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 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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