An entertaining challenge to a century of misconceptions.

THE ASSASSINATION OF THE ARCHDUKE

SARAJEVO 1914 AND THE ROMANCE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

The vilified heir to the Hapsburg throne wins a touching rehabilitation in this nonscholarly look at his love match and sad demise.

King (A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York, 2008, etc.) and Woolmans (25 Chapters of My Life: The Memoirs of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, 2010) find a juicy story in the scandalous romance of the Hapsburg emperor’s nephew, whose marriage pact with Sophie Chotek may have helped contribute to his assassination in Sarajevo. By 1900, the old reactionary Emperor Franz Joseph I had been on the throne of the Austro-Hungarian confederation for more than 50 years, outliving several younger heirs to the throne, including his own son, Rudolf, who committed suicide. The emperor never liked his nephew, Franz Ferdinand, who was a cautious, piously Catholic, army-trained 35-year-old with “watery blue eyes” and who may have harbored reformist tendencies. The one daring act of his life was the choice of Sophie as his bride. A serene, mature Bohemian aristocrat, daughter of an impoverished diplomat, she was unequal to the station of an emperor’s wife. Despite the emperor’s injunction against marrying her, Franz Ferdinand finagled an official agreement that allowed him to marry Sophie if he signed a “morganatic union,” which prohibited her from inheriting rights to the Hapsburg throne. Indeed, while the marriage seemed wonderfully happy, resulting in a loving, bourgeois home life, the exclusion of Sophie from nearly all official duties next to her husband caused the couple nearly 15 years of torment and added to the general animosity against the couple in the kingdom. The ill-planned visit of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie to Bosnia “to attend maneuvers” is depicted in this light-pedaling study as a “colossal” setup.

An entertaining challenge to a century of misconceptions.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-00016-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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