A cleareyed, highly personal view of a dark chapter in American history.

A GOOD AMERICAN FAMILY

THE RED SCARE AND MY FATHER

The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist places his father at the center of an absorbing history of American political and cultural life in the 1940s and ’50s.

Elliott Maraniss was a journalist and newspaper editor from the time he was a student stringer for the New York Times to his last executive position at Madison, Wisconsin’s Capital Times. Famed Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee called him “a great editor.” Maraniss (Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story, 2015, etc.), an associate editor at the Washington Post, praises his father as “inspirational, level-headed, and instinctive about a good story.” His long career, though, was derailed and undermined by the Red Scare. In 1952, he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee after an informant named him as a communist. Elliott attested to his patriotism: He had enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor and rose to become a captain, leading an all-black company—the military was segregated—and receiving an honorable discharge. Nevertheless, HUAC’s accusations were not unfounded: Elliott, along with his wife and brother-in-law, had been members of the Communist Party, dissenters, the author writes, “who believed the nation had not lived up to its founding ideals in terms of race and equality.” Frustrated, “they latched onto a false promise and for too long blinded themselves to the repressive totalitarian reality of communism in the Soviet Union.” Drawing on considerable archival sources, family letters, and his father’s articles, essays, and editorials, Maraniss creates a sensitive portrait of a man who was “young and brilliant and searching for meaning”; whose leftist political perspective was never at odds with his patriotism; and whose optimism never failed him as he confronted considerable professional obstacles. FBI investigations led to his being fired repeatedly. He uprooted his family to five different cities in the five years after his HUAC appearance until he landed a job in Madison and, with a changing political climate, finally was free of persecution.

A cleareyed, highly personal view of a dark chapter in American history.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7837-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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