JEAN MONNET

THE FIRST STATESMAN OF INTERDEPENDENCE

Duchàne, Monnet's aide and a correspondent for The Economist, here sets out to chart the remarkable, if somewhat obscure, life of the architect of the European Community and also—a lesser-known fact—of America's wartime munitions effort. Monnet was one of those men who spend their lives forging contacts with the useful, the powerful, and the discreetly influential. Born into a prosperous family in Cognac in 1888, he acquired a merchant's internationalist outlook selling the region's eponymous brandy all over the world. Early in life, he felt at ease with the Anglo-Saxon world and believed that he could mediate between it and a suspicious France. His moment came in WW I, when he coordinated supply trains among the Allies. So began a long career of manipulating economic agreements between democracies, including a highly successful stint as munitions advisor in Washington during WW II. After the war, Adenauer and the German government turned to Monnet to negotiate a steel pact between the French and German cartels that would lay the basis for a lasting economic entente, allaying French fears of steel-based German militarism and market domination while preserving Germany's centuries-old tradition of steel manufacture. The result was the embryo of the European Economic Community, a vision that Monnet had harbored as early as 1943, when he and De Gaulle first discussed the shape of liberated Europe. Men like Monnet, according to Duchàne, were able to create the EEC because they were not politicians but enlightened technocrats—a breed with a bad name these days. As this book makes clear, however, technocrats can be a saving grace in periods of turmoil. This is not a very personal book; readers would be better advised to turn to Monnet's own memoirs. But it does reveal a complete and satisfying picture of a complex age of transition for Western Europe.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1994

ISBN: 0-393-03497-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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