This first nonacademic biography of Renault was developed by Sweetman (Van Gogh, 1990) from a rare interview granted him in 1981, two years before his subject's death. In that interview, Renault conveyed both her discomfort with being an ``apostle of the sexual revolution'' and her pride in the research behind her award- winning historical novels. Daughter of a provincial doctor, Renault attended St. Hugh's, an Oxford college for women. To escape an idle future as a maiden daughter living in her mother's sewing room, she trained to be a nurse. Along with the discipline and deprivation, she discovered her sexual nature and Julie Mullard, who was to become her life- long companion and the subject of her first novel, the subtly sexual The Purposes of Love (1939)—the first of Renault's series of contemporary novels that culminated in The Charioteer (1953), an open and sympathetic depiction of homosexual love. By the time it was published, Renault—in order to escape high taxes, the cold, and social rejection—had moved to South Africa, where she began publishing the historical novels for which she's best remembered. Carefully researched, richly imagined, her dignified representations of homosexuality among the heros and gods of ancient Greece and Rome won her a following of gay liberationists- -whose position she rejected as ``sexual tribalism.'' As honorary president of the Cape Town chapter of PEN, Renault was attacked by Nadine Gordimer for not including blacks in the chapter—which is about as controversial as Renault ever became: When she died at age 78, many still believed that her novels had been written by a man. Somewhere between this wary approach to an exceptional mind and the academic jargon that Renault seems to attract, there's still much to be explained. Renault continues to wear her own Mask of Apollo.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-15-193110-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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