An exhaustive feat of research with a focused structure and robust prose.

LINCOLN AND THE POWER OF THE PRESS

THE WAR FOR PUBLIC OPINION

Hefty study of partisan journalism as vigorously embraced by Abraham Lincoln and the warring New York dailies.

Lincoln knew the power of the press (“public sentiment is everything,” he declared in 1858), and he made sure his views were published in supportive journals and even secretly purchased the newspaper for the German-American community in Springfield, the Illinois Staats-Anzeiger. In this engaging history of one of the most divisive periods in American politics, the buildup to the Civil War, Lincoln historian Holzer (The Civil War in 50 Objects, 2013, etc.) tracks how the great political clashes played out in the lively press of the day, creating not-so-delicate marriages between politicians and the journalists writing the “news” (which was more opinion than actual news). From the early penny presses emerged the New York Herald, published by the formidable Scotsman James Gordon Bennett, a scandalmonger and disputatious contrarian who regularly skewered both parties, Democratic or Whig (Republican), while remaining anti-abolition and a fierce critic of Lincoln; the New York Tribune, founded by Horace Greeley, crusader for faddish causes from utopian socialism to gender equality, who regularly ran for office and both supported Lincoln and later tried to unseat him; and the New York Times, established by Henry Jarvis Raymond as a “mean between two extremes,” promising a more “sober” and “mature” approach yet unabashedly pro-Lincoln, especially as Raymond became head of the Republican Party. The newspapermen bristled at the others’ successes and unloosed competitive salvos in their respective pages over the Mexican War, the Fugitive Slave Act, the Compromise of 1850, the roaring 20-year rivalry between Stephen Douglas and Lincoln, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry—and, especially, the contentious presidential elections of 1860 and ’64. Other regional newspapers establishing fierce positions on slavery struggled for survival, such as William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator and Frederick Douglass’ Paper (later Monthly).

An exhaustive feat of research with a focused structure and robust prose.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1439192719

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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