A collection of inspirational correspondence from parents, grandparents, mentors, and friends aimed at guiding a younger generation along the road to fulfillment. These letters were solicited from a cross-section of Americans by U.S. News and World Report under the guidance of editor Goode. The writers represent Americans of virtually all classes and economic stations, from waitress and mechanic to doctor, lawyer, and entrepreneur. Notably absent are the very rich, the very poor, and the very celebrated. Journalists Cokie Roberts and her husband, Steven, an editor at U.S. News, who provide an introduction and a chapter on interfaith marriage (he is Jewish; she, Catholic), are about as high-visibility as the contributors get. But that, of course, is the point. Here are ``real people,'' middle Americans expressing their hopes and dreams and passing on what they've learned to the children in their lives. Despite the regional, ethnic, and occupational diversity among the letter writers, there is a somewhat surprising continuity of messages: Be kind, be honest, be true to yourself. Says an eloquent midwife from Oregon to her two children: ``Embrace all parts of yourself . . . [even] the `dark' parts of your soul.'' And the waitress from Missouri to her teenager: ``Having a job like mine helps you become a better person.'' An Austrian Jew who escaped from Hitler extols the goodness of his fellow man while Ralph Reed, the director of the Christian Coalition, praises God. Myrlie Evers Williams, widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, tells her grandson: ``You won't get very far if you blame other people.'' Accumulating money is rarely a touchstone, except in connection with honest work and providing for family. So much for acquisitive, competitive America. Upbeat, positive messages suggesting that the similarities in Americans' lives outweigh the differences—perfect for an election year. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-45011-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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 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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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