CITIZEN KOCH

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

After Mayor, Politics, and All the Best—three works that would surely have worn out the ``I'' key on an old-fashioned typewriter—what more has New York's cantankerous former mayor to say? Well, while earlier books have rehashed political battles, this one, Koch says, deals with personal moments. How's he doin'? Not bad at winning sympathy at first, with accounts of his pinched family and their exploitation by a richer uncle, of his gruesome war memories and his mother's death from cancer. But once out of law school and into the world, the story seems to confirm the suspicion that Koch never had a personal life. The author revisits familiar political territory—his early reform politics in Greenwich Village; his years on the City Council and in Congress and three terms as mayor; the numerous political campaigns—with emphasis on interpersonal frictions and attention to his ``feelings'': ``I was miserable in Washington''; ``I was incensed.'' The book's refrain might be ``For that I will never forgive him [or her]''; and, like Koch's other books, it's full of catty comments (``Liz [Taylor] looked like a huge horse''), word- for-word replays of petty confrontations, and rancorous complaints of what Koch claims are blacks' special privileges and demagogic leaders. And though Koch boasts repeatedly of his candor, there is no real soul-searching here. He confesses to being deeply depressed by the corruption scandals during his last term, even to entertaining ideas of suicide (``I was in absolute unrelenting agony'')—but not to any mistakes in judgment or to having tolerated patronage arrangements. Today, with ``nine jobs'' (mostly as a media personality), ``I've never been happier''—though Koch can't say the same for his cherished city: ``Mayor Dinkins is doing such a poor job.'' Testy as ever, with some juicy dish and a few good spite stories you can cheer. (Sixteen-page photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-08161-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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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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