By giving both sides of an ongoing written conversation, this useful collection offers an unusual portrait of a long and important literary friendship. From Stein's thank-you note written in late 1934, the month after Stein and Wilder first met in Chicago, to Wilder's 1946 note of condolence to Alice Toklas following Stein's death, the letters record a warm friendship marked by a sharing of ideas, friends, and (perhaps not least significantly) a belief in Stein's genius. Wilder is the chattier of the two, whether reporting from Vienna that he has visited Freud, who informs him that the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare's works, or from New York, noting that Mabel Luhan's effort to hold a weekly salon has failed. Wilder is forthright in discussing Stein's influence on his work, and in a 1937 letter says that the third act of Our Town "is based on your ideas, as on great pillars." That Stein in turn appreciates Wilder's talent is apparent in her attempt to persuade him to collaborate on her novel Ida: "a really truly novel is too much for me all alone we must do it together." Throughout, the letters are enhanced by thorough annotations that help make them accessible to a wide audience by supplying details on contemporary events and people, explaining allusions, offering speculations, and even editorializing when, the editors say, "texts appear to ask for it." Likewise, the addition of useful supplementary appendices (on Stein's 1934-35 U.S. lecture tour; and on what occupied Wilder and Stein during WW II, when they exchanged few letters) help round out the scene surrounding the correspondence. Perhaps the most convincing marker of the success of this collection is that, in addition to conveying so much about these correspondents, it prompts one to regret anew the decline of letter writing.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-300-06774-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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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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