Smith vivifies the personalities and marshals the revolutionary events without overwhelming the reader.

YOUNG MANDELA

A biography shepherded by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and written by an English journalist attains distance from and clarity on the life of the near-sainted South African leader.

Sunday Times Magazine contributor Smith (One Morning in Sarajevo: 28 June 1914, 2008, etc.) works back in time from the arrest of Mandela on Aug. 5, 1962, for inciting a strike and leaving the country without a passport. With the busting of the underground headquarters of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC) the next year, his papers were discovered, implicating him in revolution and sabotage against the apartheid state, which secured his imprisonment on Robben Island for the next 26 years. In this readable, well-calibrated account of Mandela’s early life, Smith attempts to get at the making of the revolutionary and leader, from an impoverished young law student to his rise through the ANC ranks, military training and authoring of “How to Be a Good Communist.” The son of a Thembu chief who defied the white magistrate, Mandela was the first of his father’s four wives’ families to be educated. At Fort Hare University, he met his future law partner and ANC colleague, Oliver Tambo. Mandela was already proving to be a student leader and oppositional figure, and he escaped an arranged tribal marriage and met Walter Sisulu, an ANC leader, helped him find a clerkship while attending law school in Johannesburg. Mentored by Sisulu, Mandela was duly enlightened to the appalling conditions imposed on black Africans by the fiercely racist apartheid structure. Tall and handsome, Mandela was also a ladies’ man, marrying Evelyn Mase in 1944 (they had several children), before divorcing her for the much younger social worker Winnie Madikizela, in 1958. Increasing leadership in the ANC involved long absences and strains on the marriage, while Mandela was embroiled in the Treason Trial of the mid-’50s, endured a five-year ban on public speaking and schisms within the ANC and advocated armed struggle by 1961.

Smith vivifies the personalities and marshals the revolutionary events without overwhelming the reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-03548-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more