A lively look at the underside of a campaign foreshadowing three successive presidencies that would end in assassination,...

1960: LBJ VS. JFK VS. NIXON

THE EPIC CAMPAIGN THAT FORGED THREE PRESIDENCIES

A historian revisits the exciting, close-run 1960 campaign.

In what’s becoming something of a specialty, Pietrusza (1920: The Year of the Six Presidents, 2007, etc.) turns again to a presidential race that included two men in walk-on roles who would later hold the office, Ford and Reagan, and featured three who would occupy the Oval Office for the next 14 years. Since Theodore White’s 1961 classic The Making of the President, 1960, we’ve learned more about John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Milhous Nixon, much of it unflattering, and almost all of it reflected in this colorful, character-driven narrative. Pietrusza examines the candidates’ manifold personal shortcomings, flaws either unseen or at least unspoken by White, including JFK’s dangerous philandering and even more dangerous health, LBJ’s curious blend of bullying cowardice and vanity, and Nixon’s deep resentments and insecurities. In a race where the candidates were all children of the New Deal and all confirmed cold warriors, personalities dominated, and the finally mature technology of television brought those personalities into the country’s living rooms. Pietrusza is especially strong covering the crucial Kennedy-Nixon TV debates and, while he pauses to consider other incidents upon which the vote may have turned, he remains focused on character. He also looks at the hapless Hubert Humphrey, outspent in the critical West Virginia primary, Nelson Rockefeller, outmaneuvered by Nixon, and Adlai Stevenson and Stuart Symington, both outhustled by Kennedy. Among many others, Pietrusza’s cast includes Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Sr., both wary of Kennedy’s Catholicism; Dwight Eisenhower, forever holding Nixon at arms length; Frank Sinatra, virtually pimping for JFK; Sam Giancana and Richard J. Daley, mobster and mayor of Chicago respectively, funneling money and votes to Kennedy; and Joseph P. Kennedy, the mastermind and bank behind his son’s bid for the White House.

A lively look at the underside of a campaign foreshadowing three successive presidencies that would end in assassination, failure and disgrace.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4027-6114-0

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Union Square/Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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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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