PATAKI

WHERE I COME FROM

Writing with Paisner (coauthor of books with former New York mayor Ed Koch and talk-show celebs Geraldo Rivera and Montel Williams), New York governor Pataki reminds New Yorkers why they should vote him in his as-yet-unannounced reelection bid and sends up a trial balloon for politicos wondering if he might become the next Republican wonder boy on the national scene. His is the classic second-generation-American-makes-good story. The Hungarian Patakis were poor farmers in Peekskill, NY; George worked hard on the farm; they didn’t have much, but they were rich in other ways, i.e., the important social and moral ways that ultimately enabled him to understand, say, how to reform welfare. The son of a mailman, George went to Yale and then Columbia Law School. He tried the large corporate law-firm scene but didn’t really have the stomach for it. Pataki turned to politics, where he served first as Peekskill’s mayor and then eventually as a state representative. Finally, after winning races that no one thought he could, he took on Democratic demigod Mario Cuomo and won. The book chronicles a little of that race but mostly focuses on Pataki’s roots, which he clumsily uses to enlighten readers about his Republican public policies. His summer stint on the coal cars at the nearby Fleischmann’s factory, for instance, enabled him, he says, to have “enormous respect for people who work in production and manufacturing.” That led to the theory that “we need enlightened employers who understand that the employees are part of a team, that they have an obligation to protect workers and an interest in helping them succeed.” A thinly veiled campaign tool that might be a useful history for political reporters, pundits, and politicians wondering what makes Pataki tick, but as interesting reading for the general public? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-87339-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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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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