SOLDIER OF PEACE

THE LIFE OF YITZHAK RABIN 1922-1995

A worthwhile review of the life of the late Israeli leader by an award-winning journalist, but it sheds little new light on one of the more intriguing personalities of the last 50 years. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister assassinated on Nov. 4, 1995, was almost the anti-politician. He was blunt, honest, and dour, didn—t tailor his remarks or his persona to his audience, and seemed always to be precisely as he presented himself. Thus, former Washington Post correspondent Kurzman (Blood and Water: Sabotaging Hitler’s Bomb, 1996, etc.) undertook a difficult task in attempting to explain what made Rabin tick, and he mostly disappoints in the effort. Kurzman’s central thesis is that it was Rabin’s anguish at sending so many soldiers to die as a general that led him to become a peacemaker in his two stints as prime minister, and that Rabin always had an eye to making peace possible even as, in a range of key roles, he was building Israel’s armed forces into a fearsome fighting machine. But Rabin presented this same thesis in his own memoirs, while illuminating as little as Kurzman the complexities of his character. Only in the last hundred pages, which draw on Kurzman’s access to many of the key players surrounding Rabin as he stunned Israel and the world by making peace with the Palestine Liberation Organization, does this biography finally come to multidimensional life. The chapter on the hours immediately preceding Rabin’s assassination is the best one here, and a frustrating sample of what the rest of the book might have been. We are left wanting to know more about Rabin and the pioneering, native-born Israelis with whom his life is so intimately intertwined (the publication date coincides with Israel’s 50th birthday). Rabin may have shown all his cards all the time, but one senses there are more complex explanations than those offered here for such a seemingly simple approach to life. (16 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-06-018684-4

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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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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