Are the scales of justice at work here? Hardly. But Dunne’s courtroom tales are a lot more lucid than most judge’s...

JUSTICE

CRIME, TRIALS, AND PUNISHMENTS

Surging reports on high-society murder cases, featuring some of the most seamy and venal behavior this side of Gomorrah, from the man who wrote the book on such doings, Dunne (The Way We Lived Then, 1999, etc.)

Collected here are Dunne’s articles from Vanity Fair on high-profile courtroom dramas involving O.J. Simpson, Erik and Lyle Menendez, Claus von Bülow, the murder of Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Connecticut—nine stories in all, including a lacerating piece on the murder of his daughter, Dominique. Making no pretense at balance (Dunne is nothing if not opinionated and a great deal of the effectiveness of this work revolves around that), the author is scrupulously honest in his reporting, and thorough. He also moves at a good clip, pulling readers along as though a hand had clasped their sleeve, pointing out inconsistencies in testimony and the willful corruption of the truth by shady lawyers. O.J. gets the most pages: “The Simpson case is like a great trash novel come to life, a mammoth fireworks display of interracial marriage, love, lust, lies, hate, fame, wealth, beauty, obsession, spousal abuse, stalking, brokenhearted children, the bloodiest of bloody knife-slashing homicides, and all the justice that money can buy.” Dunne has a knack for capturing the air of unreality that bathes these trials, but the crimes themselves are simply grisly: “The porno star and the unemployed dishwasher implicated each other in helping Murillo as he held a pillow over her face to muffle her screams. It had taken the three of them 15 minutes to kill her.” Dunne also has a way with delivering a dig—“A man just convicted of twice attempting to murder his wife would not seem like much of a catch to most women”—although he can also be prim: a particular judge, for example, was “noticeably dressed in a manner associated more with Hollywood agents than with superior court judges.”

Are the scales of justice at work here? Hardly. But Dunne’s courtroom tales are a lot more lucid than most judge’s instructions to their juries.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60873-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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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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