THE LESSONS OF TRAGEDY

STATECRAFT AND WORLD ORDER

Literate and lucid—sure to interest to readers of Fukuyama, Huntington, and similar authors as well as students of modern...

Americans are “serial amnesiacs” who have forgotten the hardest of hard times—which will serve us poorly when the hard times return.

The ancient Greeks made the dramatic form of tragedy central to their cultural expression, write Brands (Global Affairs/Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump, 2018, etc.) and Edel (United States Studies Centre, Univ. of Sydney; Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic, 2014, etc.), as both admonition and inspiration. “An understanding of tragedy,” they note, “remains indispensable—as it always has been—to the conduct of statecraft and the preservation of world order.” One central facet of tragedy is that hubris will get a person in trouble; another is that it’s never correct to assume you’re in control of any situation. Given receding memories of the Cold War and the world wars, many ordinary Americans and policymakers alike have lost the awareness that, in the authors’ view, the story of international relations over the centuries “has been one of recurring geopolitical cataclysms in which peace is ruptured, nations are shattered, countless lives are lost or disrupted, and golden eras come crashing to an end.” It’s the stuff of Aeschylus and Thucydides but also of the current headlines, in which the American assumption that democracies are allies and autocracies and authoritarian states suspect is giving way to global illiberalism and the competing geopolitical demands of states such as Russia and China. A properly formed tragic sense, the authors hold, instructs that rivalries between great powers can easily lead to war between them, “a prospect that seemed to have followed the Soviet empire onto the ash heap of history.” Other aspects of the tragic sense include recognizing the need for personal sacrifice and communal action and seeing clearly the world for what it is, “especially when the outlook is ominous.”

Literate and lucid—sure to interest to readers of Fukuyama, Huntington, and similar authors as well as students of modern realpolitik.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-300-23824-2

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2019

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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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