Initially written (but never published) in the 1930s, this biography of notorious gangster John Dillinger has the authentic flavor of the era, bolstered by its coauthor's firsthand contact with some of the leading players. Girardin penned his manuscript not long after Dillinger was shot dead by the FBI at the Biograph Theatre on North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago on July 22, 1934. An advertising man, he had had a chance meeting with Dillinger's dubious lawyer, one Louis Piquett, and had been prompted to follow the outlaw's story. In 1990, just before he died, he collaborated with William Helmer (The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar, 1969) to produce the present text. Dillinger was the most charismatic and charming of the '20s-era gangsters, with none of the cold-blooded ruthlessness of Al Capone or Baby Face Nelson. The centerpiece of the book is an account of Dillinger's first and most spectacular jailbreak, from a small prison in Arizona, with a wooden gun smuggled in by one of his associates (Piquett himself was suspected). The escape was a national sensation, and Piquett, who had a sharp eye for any opportunity, became the ``most famous lawyer in America'' (in his own words). The authors shed interesting light on crime detection in the US and its relative backwardness as late as the 1920s. Before the emergence of the FBI, the looseness of national policing made it relatively easy for outlaws to roam the country; the creation of this agency in essentially its contemporary form was precisely what stopped Dillinger in his tracks. As Hoover said, the outlaw had two major weaknesses: sex and ``a flair for the spectacular.'' He was betrayed by a woman who was linked to one of his police killers, and he did indeed die spectacularly. Thousands of people filed past the Biograph Theatre to dip handkerchiefs in his blood. Eminently revealing and enjoyable.

Pub Date: May 31, 1994

ISBN: 0-253-32556-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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 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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