THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Everything that, in time, made TR an irresistible force the curiosity and concentration, the energy, the ardor, the dramatic flair vitalizes this hugely detailed, over-long (700 pp), and rather florid account of his life up to the presidency. But Morris is also locked into his concept of Roosevelt's "rise," persistently seeing in the sickly, bookish, solitary boy and the lovelorn Harvard dandy the future leader of men. It's the colorful, charismatic personality we have here, then, largely minus the drifting, the despondency and self-doubt that afflicted him even after he "rose like a rocket" (in his own words) to leadership of the New York State Assembly at the precocious age of 23. But those who were there to see it or, later, to witness his exuberant embrace of the still-wild West, his crusade as New York City Police Commissioner to stamp out Sunday liquor sales, have provided Morris with great copy: the toothy grin lighting up a sodbuster's hut; the cheerful, chest-thumping retort to a German protest-marcher's "Wo is der Roosevelt?" "Hier bin ich!" Never mind that, in the latter instance, Morris keeps equally close tabs on his running feud with a fellow-commissioner; the detail pays off when Roosevelt, escaping to the wider fields of Washington, puts the Navy in position to strike at Spain in "three or four hours" as Acting Secretary to the consternation of his boss, innocently off seeing an osteopath. Nothing here is really new not the jingoism, the personal rush to arms that soon had Roosevelt second-in-command (and, of course, foremost) of the Rough Riders, the compromise with Boss Platt that enabled him to function as New York's Governor, the ambivalence about the Vice-Presidential nomination. And wherever Morris' interpretation differs from that of Henry Pringle, still Roosevelt's best biographer, his penchant for histrionics warps his judgment: "With fulfillment [atop San Juan Heights] came purgation. Bellicose poisons had been breeding in him since infancy. . . . But at last he had had his bloodletting. . . Theodore Roosevelt was at last, incongruously, a man of peace." The real lesson, willy-nilly, is in seeing the fun he had being a great, boyish nuisance.

Pub Date: March 30, 1979

ISBN: 0375756787

Page Count: 964

Publisher: Coward-McCann

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1979

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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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