Stewart’s lively character sketches employ sprightly prose and impeccable research.

MADISON'S GIFT

FIVE PARTNERSHIPS THAT BUILT AMERICA

A fond portrait of the mild-mannered Virginian and implacable advocate for the young American government.

Historian and novelist Stewart (The Lincoln Deception, 2013, etc.) offers a pertinent lesson on Madison’s ability to forge working bonds with other founding members of the new American government, even if they did not always see eye to eye. Discreet, generous and nonegotistical, unlike others who hammered out the documents that framed the new government, Madison refused to take credit, rather conceding the “work of many hands and many heads” in the forging of the Constitution. Small and soft-spoken, he was overshadowed by the more dynamic personalities of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe, yet the complement of their respective qualities resulted in brilliant working relationships during the course of Madison’s political career. Hamilton and Madison, both in their 30s, recognized that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate for managing the new nation and had to be replaced by a stronger national government. Their energy as “impatient young men” galvanized the other delegates in Philadelphia over “framing a system which we wish to last for ages,” while their dozens of newspaper essays (written with John Jay) explaining the Constitutional structure became the incomparable work of political theory, The Federalist Papers. Madison cleverly used the power and prestige of Gen. Washington in consolidating attendance at the Convention and winning votes for the Bill of Rights, and the two largely struck the deal to build a new capital on the Potomac. In Jefferson, Madison found an intellectual kindred spirit and lifelong friend. Monroe served in Jefferson’s and Madison’s administrations and navigated the Louisiana Purchase and renewed hostility with Britain. Finally, the woman and helpmate Madison found late in life, Dolley, evolved into a winning “Lady Presidentess” and devoted caretaker in his dotage at Montpelier.

Stewart’s lively character sketches employ sprightly prose and impeccable research.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1451688580

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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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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