A thoroughly researched biography of a remarkable figure.



The story of a dynamic political outsider who mounted a formidable challenge to Franklin D. Roosevelt for the presidency.

In 1940, Roosevelt was deciding whether to run for a third term, a war in Europe was raging, inflaming debate about whether the U.S. should join, and the Republican Party was looking desperately for a candidate who could take back the presidency. The man they chose was Indiana-born Wendell Willkie (1892-1944), a wealthy businessman with no political experience but considerable charm and who only recently had changed party affiliation. “He’ll go down as the darkest horse in the stable for 1940,” said one political commentator. Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Lewis (Emeritus, History/New York Univ.; W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography, 2009, etc.), who was awarded the National Humanities Medal, draws on abundant archival and published material to create a spirited portrait of the charismatic, outspoken Willkie, who took the political spotlight from 1940 until his death four years later. Time magazine founder Henry Luce called Willkie “a force of nature”; decades later, historian David Halberstam characterized him as “the rarest of things in those days, a Republican with sex appeal.” Willkie was forthright in his criticism of FDR, who Willkie claimed curtailed the Bill of Rights, fomented class conflict, undermined business (as president of a major utility company, Willkie was a fierce opponent of the Tennessee Valley Authority and other New Deal programs), and was itching to involve America in another war. Willkie felt no party loyalty but, Lewis asserts, embraced a “creed of liberalism” that “opposed equally unregulated wealth and unlimited government power.” He drew exuberant crowds as he campaigned across the country, and polls showed the election too close to call. Willkie lost to FDR but only by 5 million votes. Post-election, Willkie and FDR became close allies, and after he returned from a fact-finding trip to Europe at FDR’s request, Willkie became a strong interventionist. Lewis recounts Willkie’s prescient views of the postwar world as well as his staunch civil rights advocacy.

A thoroughly researched biography of a remarkable figure.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-87140-457-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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 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

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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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