A MATTER OF JUSTICE

EISENHOWER AND THE BEGINNING OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS REVOLUTION

Sympathetic assessment of Ike’s civil-rights record.

It’s likely to be controversial as well. Nichols (Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics, 1978) forthrightly acknowledges Eisenhower’s gradualism in civil rights. He was born, after all, in 1890, six years before Plessy v. Ferguson; the old general had a racial blind spot that prevented him from fully understanding the plight of black Americans. Moreover, Eisenhower genuinely distrusted the power of statutory law to change hearts or vanquish prejudice and little understood how his repeated, public articulation of this mantra demoralized passionate advocates who’d waited too long for equality. His deeds, however, were less passive than his rhetoric; Nichols persuasively argues that Eisenhower did more than any other white politician in the 1950s to advance the civil rights agenda. The president acted unilaterally to desegregate Washington, D.C., to eliminate employment discrimination by firms handling federal contracts and to vigorously follow through on desegregating the armed forces. Ike proposed and effected passage of the first civil rights legislation since 1875, notwithstanding successful efforts by southern Democratic power brokers to weaken the bill. With the aid of his indispensable Attorney General, Herbert Brownell, Eisenhower made excellent judicial appointments in the deep South, where the likes of Frank Johnson and John Minor Wisdom proved instrumental in the legal struggle to implement Brown v. Board of Education. Even more important was his impact on the Supreme Court; all of his nominees staunchly upheld civil rights, most notably Chief Justice Earl Warren. Eisenhower demonstrated his reverence for the federal courts, his devotion to the law and his fierce sense of his own duty by becoming the first president since Reconstruction to order federal troops into a southern state, sending them to Arkansas in 1957 to enforce integration in Little Rock’s schools. Nichols focuses on the facts, but he also offers a careful analysis of why Ike has not received proper historical credit.

Revelatory reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4150-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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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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