A sturdy biography; though not uncritical, probably best suited to those inclined to be well-disposed toward Bloomberg and...

BLOOMBERG

A BILLIONAIRE'S AMBITION

A biography of three-term New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (b. 1942).

There was a time, early on in Bloomberg’s bid for the mayoralty of New York, that someone leaked a gag gift given to him by his staff, a 30-page compendium of foulmouthed, cynical sayings—“politically incorrect does not begin to describe them,” writes McNickle, a former executive in global investment firms and treasurer of the American Historical Association. Consternation ensued, as political opponents lodged charges of racism, sexism, and classism in a race that got ever more heated—and, as the author writes, ever costlier, with Bloomberg, a media and real estate billionaire, spending $74 million to his Democratic opponent’s $16.6 million. The big-ticket aspect of the narrative is a constant, for Bloomberg had endless resources and was committed to converting the city from “an unintended monument to time-gone-by into a place where the future could happen.” In the course of that transformation, McNickle writes, large portions of the city became unaffordable, “one of the root causes of the long-standing homeless crisis.” The author credits Bloomberg for some innovations in government operations but, in some of the sharpest critiques of the book, also notes that the current mayor, Bill de Blasio inherited a fantastic mess in terms of public housing and anti-poverty programs. Bloomberg also was slow to support the living wage, saying, “the last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR and that didn’t work out so well.” Unafraid to use numbers or evoke fiscal policy, McNickle covers a lot of ground capably, arguing that Bloomberg’s preference was always for market solutions to social problems, placing him as an economic and social centrist in a time of increasingly fringe-driven politics.

A sturdy biography; though not uncritical, probably best suited to those inclined to be well-disposed toward Bloomberg and his years in office.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2257-6

Page Count: 460

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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