A useful addition to the discussion though unlikely to change Mitch McConnell’s mind on election security.



Journalist Shimer turns in a thoroughgoing account of the many ways in which Russia and the U.S. have tinkered with each other’s voting processes.

Russia has been attempting to sway American public opinion since the days of Lenin, who knew that his government’s survival hinged on being accepted in the outside world. But when Barack Obama was informed that Russia was gaming the 2016 presidential election, he looked only at the short term—and only at the question of whether Russia was directly changing ballots. “They were not focused at all on what we knew had been very effective elsewhere,” said an adviser, “the influence campaign, changing public opinion.” Obama retaliated with sanctions that were undone by Donald Trump. By Shimer’s account, Russia has rigged plenty of elections before, including many in Eastern Europe, when brigades of Soviet agents literally stuffed the ballot boxes to promote supposedly freely elected communist candidates in Poland and East Germany. But then, so has America, if in less direct ways, as when the CIA poured millions of dollars—by Shimer’s reckoning, about $107 million in today’s dollars—into the promotion of the Christian Democratic over the Communist Party in the Italian elections of 1948. The CIA’s interference in the Chilean elections of the 1960s proved less effective, leading to the election of the Communist Salvador Allende, who was deposed by an Ameican-backed military coup in 1973. As an aide to Henry Kissinger admitted, the U.S. attempted to sway that election by “creating false propaganda” and “overthrowing the constitution,” and it worked. Shimer offers a fascinating counterfactual in the case of Willy Brandt, who, aided unwittingly by Soviet agents, urged détente between East and West Germany and the superpowers behind them: If the election had not been swayed in his direction, “the very arc of the Cold War…might have been transformed.”

A useful addition to the discussion though unlikely to change Mitch McConnell’s mind on election security.

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65900-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.


Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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