For readers who enjoy the stories of the sensationalistic press of the 1930s and its crass exploitation of the details of...

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THE MAD SCULPTOR

THE MANIAC, THE MODEL, AND THE MURDER THAT SHOOK THE NATION

The fiendish story of “mad sculptor” Robert Irwin (1908–1975), featuring “the kind of lurid goings-on that speak to the secret dreams and dangerous desires of the public.”

Examining the life and surroundings of Irwin, who perpetrated a triple homicide on Easter Sunday 1937, veteran true-crime writer Schechter (American Literature and Culture/Queens Coll.; Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of, 2012) also offers tales of other grisly murders, particularly the two murders that took place over an 18-month period in exclusive Manhattan’s Beekman Place. They are connected only by geography and the fact that the tabloids embellished the stories with any salacious material they could dig up or create. Schechter delivers a solid indictment of the journalism practices of the 1920s and ’30s. It was a time of trial by newspaper, with everyone, including Walter Winchell, having a go at the latest suspect. The police were not much help since they fed the beast in their announcements of every lead and suspect. The murders by the mad sculptor were not even his intended victims; they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Obsessing about a girl who spurned his proposal, Irwin intended to kill her, and his earlier attempt at self-emasculation to enable him to focus on his powers of visualization brought him to the only psychiatrist who understood his problem, the famed German-born Fredric Wertham. Irwin committed himself to mental institutions on a number of occasions, and his long history of mental illness, possibly due to congenital syphilis, his explosive temper and self-delusion marked him as a man who never should have been released.

For readers who enjoy the stories of the sensationalistic press of the 1930s and its crass exploitation of the details of horrific murders; not for fans of clever police work or investigative reporting.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-11431-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Amazon/New Harvest

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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