An unauthorized and exhaustive biography of the author still best known for her 1971 feminist polemic The Female Eunuch. Wallace is a journalist and writer based in Australia, where Greer was born and educated by Roman Catholic nuns. Although Greer apparently objected strenuously to this biography and offered no cooperation, Wallace was able to tap sources worldwide, including those in Australia who knew the controversial author as either a well-behaved schoolgirl, a budding actress, or a flamboyant graduate student, challenging sexual and social mores. Her anti-authoritarian social philosophy was formed on the fringes of Australian academe, while she wrote a master’s thesis on Lord Byron that ignored his misogyny. Later, at England’s Cambridge University, her Ph.D. thesis included an analysis of The Taming of the Shrew. One of her conclusions: “There is hardly a woman alive who is not deeply attracted to . . . a man capable of . . . exercising [Petruchio’s] kind of sexual and domestic dominion.” Greer went on to become a 1960s groupie, teaching college courses during the day, bedding down with rock stars at night, and writing about it for magazines like Suck. Within a few years, The Female Eunuch had made her an international evangelist for a brand of countercultural feminism that eschewed sisterhood in favor of sex, but also examined the dynamics of marriage and women’s low self-esteem. Greer wrote other books, including a moving memoir about her emotionally absent father, yet none created the stir of her first. Now settled on a farm in England, she remains a favorite talk-show guest because of her sharp wit and still contentious opinions, and is said to have a new book in the works to be published this year. Ambivalent to women, wavering in her commitment to truth in Wallace’s portrait, Greer remains a flawed but fascinating subject. (16 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-571-19934-8

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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