Thoughtful and thoroughly well-told—just the right treatment for a subject about which many books have been written before,...

BLOOD BROTHERS

THE STORY OF THE STRANGE FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN SITTING BULL AND BUFFALO BILL

Blood is thicker than water, but friendship is perhaps thickest of all, particularly when it acts as a poultice for seemingly unhealable wounds.

Relating large events in the guise of paired persons, friends or enemies, is an old storytelling strategy, not much used these days. Stillman (Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, a Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern California History, 2012, etc.) neatly revives it in this portrait of the uncomplicated, mutually admiring friendship of the Lakota leader Sitting Bull and William Cody, aka Buffalo Bill. Adding a third to them in the form of the sharpshooter and all-around interesting person Annie Oakley, the author looks at the clash of cultures and how each character resolved or sometimes ignored differences to form bonds of respect. Along the way, as is her special talent, Stillman places these and other characters at the center of major events that they perhaps did not know were major at the time. In one fine moment, she profiles Custer’s horse, Comanche, noting that the poor beast, drafted onto the pack train “in spite of retirement,” was also an unwitting witness to the massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee. Acknowledging the terrible coincidence that terrible things have tended to happen to Native people at the time of “important holidays of the white man,” Stillman gives an account of the tragic murder of Sitting Bull that’s as good as any in the literature. She closes by observing how the lives of her three principals can be seen in the context of the still ongoing “journey of healing our original sin—the betrayal of Native Americans,” a journey that requires continued goodwill, to say nothing, perhaps, of a revival of the Ghost Dance to sing peace into the world.

Thoughtful and thoroughly well-told—just the right treatment for a subject about which many books have been written before, few so successfully.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7352-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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