In a book with broad appeal, Ephron cogently analyzes the origins and ramifications of a national tragedy he reported on as...

KILLING A KING

THE ASSASSINATION OF YITZHAK RABIN AND THE REMAKING OF ISRAEL

“Israelis had grown tired of peace conferences. And it wasn’t at all clear whether the extremists, Arabs or Israelis, were declining or ascending.” Those words, describing the situation in the aftermath of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, are just as true 20 years later.

In a single moment, the Jewish zealot Yigal Amir derailed the Oslo negotiations and forever altered the destinies of two nations. Former Newsweek Jerusalem bureau chief Ephron argues that the murder presaged the rise of the Israeli hard right, and today, with Rabin’s archrival Benjamin Netanyahu serving as prime minister and a quarter of the population supporting clemency for Amir, peace with the Palestinians seems as distant as at any time since 1948. In tense, gripping prose, the author dissects Amir’s background, describing him as a bright student who, “in his own view…knew God’s word better than most Jews, even most rabbis. And he was a doerthe characteristic that defined Amir more than any other, that distinguished him from his peers in school and in the military.” In college, he threw himself into activism but “racked up nothing but failures: the failure to draw millions to the streets; the failure to form a serious militia; and the failure to stop Rabin.” The story of Rabin’s evolving relationship with Yasser Arafat and Amir’s growing militancy unfold in parallel, Amir making repeated attempts to get close to his quarry as he schemed with his brother and harangued his college friends. Amir considered Rabin rodef, a villain who pursues Jews with the intent of killing them, and Ephron makes the solid point that “any honest interpretation of the Talmudic principle he fixated on would have pointed back at him. Amir was the real rodef.”

In a book with broad appeal, Ephron cogently analyzes the origins and ramifications of a national tragedy he reported on as a young journalist.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24209-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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