A brisk, admiring portrait that burnishes the Kennedy image.

BOBBY KENNEDY

A RAGING SPIRIT

Recounting Robert Kennedy’s political career.

Hardball anchor Matthews (Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked, 2013, etc.) was much inspired by the Kennedy brothers. “All that youth and hope and sense of change: you couldn’t be alive and not feel it,” he writes. Having chronicled John F. Kennedy’s life in two books (Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, 2011, and Kennedy and Nixon, 1996), the author now turns to Bobby, revealing his essential role in his brother’s success and the trajectory of his own life in politics. The story is familiar: as the third son of an “overbearing, manipulative, and ever critical” father, Bobby longed for Joseph Kennedy’s approval. He spent his youth in awe of his two older brothers, quietly honing a ruthlessness, decisiveness, and “righteous pugnacity” that would serve him well when he managed Jack’s political campaigns, worked for Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and became a senator and presidential candidate himself. Bobby made enemies easily and for life. As his sister Eunice remarked, he had “a gift for estrangement.” No one on Bobby’s enemies list was as despised as Lyndon Johnson. When JFK invited Johnson to be his running mate, Bobby was enraged: “the stored-up hatred for the Texan…couldn’t be appeased.” The antipathy was mutual. After Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson saw himself as next in line for the presidency in 1968, but as early as 1963, Johnson saw Bobby as “an inside threat to his obtaining the prize he’d signed on for.” Matthews highlights Bobby’s growing empathy for the poor, downtrodden, and marginalized and defends his entry into the 1968 presidential race, a decision made after Johnson had dropped out and anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy established a strong lead. Bobby, writes the author, was driven by “conscience and compassion” and by the heartfelt conviction that he could continue his brother’s progressive agendas. Historian Arthur Schlesinger described Bobby as “a romantic stubbornly disguised as a realist,” a judgment that Matthews underscores.

A brisk, admiring portrait that burnishes the Kennedy image.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1186-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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