A searching portrait of an arrogant, heroic and willful man—a mix of Jean Genet, Don Quixote and King Lear.

LIMONOV

THE OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURES OF THE RADICAL SOVIET POET WHO BECAME A BUM IN NEW YORK, A SENSATION IN FRANCE, AND A POLITICAL ANTIHERO IN RUSSIA

The life of a controversial Russian writer and adventurer.

Journalist, novelist, screenwriter and director Carrère (My Life as a Russian Novel, 2010, etc.) was amazed when he heard some of Russia’s liberal intellectuals warmly praise Edward Limonov (b. 1943), infamous for his right-wing views and incendiary fascist remarks. That paradox inspired the investigation that resulted in this book, winner of the Prix Renaudot when it was published in France in 2011. Combining biography, political history and memoir, Carrère places Limonov’s “romantic, dangerous life” in the context of what he calls his own “bourgeois bohemian” experiences. Limonov, “a Russian Jack London,” has been wildly impetuous: A rebel, thug and poet, he left his native Ukraine when he was 24; moved to Moscow, where he eked out a living sewing pants; married a beautiful model with whom, in 1974, he immigrated to New York, imagining a “radiant future” as a writer. Despondent after his wife left him, he became a homeless tramp; then, in a sharp twist of fate, he got a job as butler to a multimillionaire, through whom he met a literary agent who placed his first book—autobiographical fiction—with a French publisher. Paris was next, where the literati treated him like “a bit of a star.” But he was restless. Learning of conflict in the Balkans, he decided to fight with the Serbs. When Carrère interviewed him in Moscow in 2007, he was leading a “national assembly of opposition forces.” Limonov has been opposed to political leaders (most recently, “cold and cunning” Putin), to the adulation bestowed upon such writers as Joseph Brodsky, Pasternak and Yevtushenko, and to glasnost, which led his countrymen to believe that they had been duped by “a gang of criminals.” Limonov prefers his Russia “powerful and morose.”

A searching portrait of an arrogant, heroic and willful man—a mix of Jean Genet, Don Quixote and King Lear.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-19201-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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