QUANTRILL'S WAR

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM CLARKE QUANTRILL: 1837-1865

A vivid account of the life and times of a Confederate guerrilla. The second life of Quantrill to appear this season (the other being Edward E. Leslie's The Devil Knows How to Ride, p. TKTK), Schultz's is distinguished by the author's determination to show that Quantrill, the bloody ruffian who savaged the Kansas frontier, took part in the Civil War to suit his own agenda. ``He was a cold-blooded killer,'' writes Schultz (Over the Earth I Come, 1992, etc.), ``gunning down Union soldiers and civilians, showing no mercy or remorse . . . waging his personal war under the protection of the Confederate flag. It was a war against the world, driven by hatred and a desire to avenge himself against everyone he imagined had maligned him.'' Schultz, however, does not plunge deeply into psychobiography, apart from noting that as a youth Quantrill seemed to show a marked, ingenious cruelty toward animals. Instead, the author unfolds a shoot-'em-up narrative long on action and short on speculative analysis, one of the virtues of which is to show that some of the men Quantrill hated most (including Missouri's senator Jim Lane, who championed the Union only because it offered more lucrative possibilities and seemed likeliest to win) were no prizes themselves. Schultz is especially good on examining the internal divisions within Quantrill's mixed group of soldiers and on the power struggles to which these divisions led, especially toward the end of the war, when the guerrillas began one by one to abandon their leader, some because ``they were appalled and ashamed at what they had done at Lawrence, gunning down unarmed men and boys, terrorizing women and children, looting and destroying homes,'' others simply because they knew that defeat lay near. Schultz extends his catalog of richly detailed, well-written histories with this life of Quantrill, who emerges less as a psychopath than as a soldier bent on bringing total destruction to his enemy. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14710-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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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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