A refreshing look at this still-much-debated world debacle.



A sturdy one-volume study of America’s role in World War I.

As a companion to historian Meyer’s A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914-1918 (2006), which focused on Europe, this work focuses exclusively on America’s involvement in World War I, from its embrace of neutrality to “the law of selfishness” in plunging the U.S. into Europe’s conflagration in 1917. The author debunks many myths about America’s valiant intentions in joining the war, especially regarding President Woodrow Wilson’s sense of destiny on the world stage, and he closely examines why Wilson acquiesced to joining the fight. Indeed, Meyer devotes an entire chapter to “Why,” including the political pressure from the outrage of the Zimmermann Telegram and the sinking of the Lusitania by German torpedoes. Yet, wonders the author, was Britain “so deeply in debt to the United States that its defeat would have plunged the nation into depression”? Or was it true that if the U.S. did not join the effort, Wilson, “as president, would be left with no major part to play in the postwar settlement”? Meyer gives a good sense of America’s future at that negotiating table and Wilson’s celebrated role at Versailles as the leader of the free world. The author also looks at America’s path in arriving at that fraught moment—manipulated by the propaganda effort of the British communications campaign, vilifying the Germans, and the struggle to raise conscription and maintain morale at home. In alternate chapters, Meyer chronicles narrative back stories, such as the role of Col. Edward House in influencing the president and that of “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the congressman from Wisconsin who passionately argued that America had no quarrel with the German people and that Wilson needed to be held accountable. Meyer also examines the unprecedented restrictions on censorship called for by the Wilson administration, and, as an appendix, he includes Wilson’s “Program for Peace” in its entirety.

A refreshing look at this still-much-debated world debacle.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-39332-3

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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