The enthusiastic narrative often jumps ahead of Bell’s story and then backtracks, but there’s never a dull moment in the...

GERTRUDE BELL

QUEEN OF THE DESERT, SHAPER OF NATIONS

From British journalist Howell, a lively biography of the daring Victorian adventurer, archaeologist and author, an early proponent of Arab self-determination.

Along with T.E. Lawrence, Bell (1868–1926) was instrumental in uniting Arab tribes against their Turkish oppressors; indeed, she is credited with helping to forge the nation of Iraq at the end of World War I. Her knowledge of the Middle East was far-reaching and formidable, thanks to decades spent traveling in the desert, sometimes alone, documenting the land and the intricacies of Bedouin life. She was the privileged granddaughter of Yorkshire industrialist Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, an engineer and iron manufacturer. Her mother died early on, and Gertrude grew up largely under the watchful eye of her enlightened French stepmother, Florence. Restless, uneasy with the debutante’s role, Bell, a brilliant, rebellious student, craved a mission in life and found solace in climbing mountains, studying archaeology and learning languages. Her 1897 translation of Sufi poet Hafiz launched a literary career that included such classic travel books as The Desert and the Sown (1907) and The Thousand and One Churches (1909). British military intelligence, respectful of her vast firsthand knowledge of the Middle East, solicited her advice and heeded her proposals for Arab self-rule. Bell never married, and several times her life was devastated by an impossible love affair. Heartsick and exhausted, she died from what might have been a deliberate drug overdose in her Baghdad home days before her 58th birthday.

The enthusiastic narrative often jumps ahead of Bell’s story and then backtracks, but there’s never a dull moment in the peerless life of this trailblazing character.

Pub Date: April 17, 2007

ISBN: 0-374-16162-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more