A knowledgeable but fairly tedious assessment of the trajectory of Lincoln’s early career.

CONGRESSMAN LINCOLN

THE MAKING OF AMERICA'S GREATEST PRESIDENT

The story of Lincoln’s two-year stint in Congress.

There might be a reason why so few books about Lincoln dwell on his brief spell as an Illinois congressman, from 1847 to 1849—the details are mostly dull. To his credit, attorney and political strategist DeRose (Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, The Bill of Rights, and the Election that Saved a Nation, 2011) injects some energy into the political minutiae, managing to sound a few bright, telling moments within the fight over the Mexican War, slavery and Whig jockeying that portended the later, great president. Lincoln was just beginning to test the political waters as a successful Springfield lawyer and leader of the Illinois Whig party when he decided to run for Congress in his mid-30s. Already known for his good nature and entertaining storytelling, he was also deeply ambitious and committed to helping the Whigs gain power. By cannily gaining support for his county base by taking on new law partner William Herndon, as well as having married (albeit reluctantly) into “what passed for Illinois aristocracy” in the person of Mary Todd, Lincoln was learning the game of politics, handily defeating his Democratic opponent in 1846. In Washington, Lincoln and his family stayed at Sprigg’s boardinghouse, the so-called “Abolition House,” mingling with kingpins and becoming a member of the minority Whig congressional caucus. Lincoln distinguished himself by his key advocacy for the Whig candidate for president, Gen. Zachary Taylor, and by his stance against the war and against the spread of slavery in Oregon. It was an important time of making political connections and shaking out the “hayseed in his hair.”

A knowledgeable but fairly tedious assessment of the trajectory of Lincoln’s early career.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9514-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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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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