Important research on an overlooked but significant figure.



A lively work chronicling the growth of the educated African-American movers and shakers in Washington, D.C., on the brink of renewed Jim Crow laws.

A longtime employee of the Library of Congress who wrote a significant bibliography of African-American literature, Daniel Murray (1851-1925), born to freedmen in Baltimore, ushered in a new class of educated black people advocating for reform in the nation’s capital. In this thorough work of research, Taylor (A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons, 2012) focuses on Murray and his family as participants in the wave of hopeful race relations after the Civil War; ultimately, they had to come to grips with setbacks by the turn of the century. Murray and his family, mostly illiterate, were part of the “firsts” who moved to D.C. after the war. The young Murray, following his older brother, worked as a waiter in restaurants on the ground floor of the Capitol. Having been educated in Christian schools, he got a job under Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford as a personal assistant and eventually head of periodicals. Light-skinned, bright, and ambitious, Murray dabbled lucratively in real estate and was a model citizen chosen for President William McKinley’s inauguration committee; he married a woman of illustrious abolitionist background from Oberlin, Ohio, Anna Evans, and together they formed a “power couple” in black activist Washington, joining many reform causes—e.g., Anna’s devotion to creating kindergartens for African-American children. The author chronicles how two different intellectuals—Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois—approached African-American concerns at the time and how one of the first black political groups was Murray’s National Afro-American Council, which eventually morphed into today’s NAACP. Murray’s special assignment research for the American Negro Exhibit at the Paris Exposition in 1900 would lead to his lifelong work culling African-American bibliography—the beginning of today’s black studies. As Taylor demonstrates, Murray was a pioneer and patriot.

Important research on an overlooked but significant figure.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-234609-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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 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...


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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