Former New York Times reporter Salisbury (The New Emperors, 1992, etc.) profiles 25 individuals who have won his admiration. Nearly all the sketches are crisp and effective, but some subjects seem capriciously chosen, failing the author's own criteria: courage. Salisbury has chosen some figures who, though obscure to most readers, seem to have led exemplary lives—including Deng Pufang, who's used his position as son of China's current ruler to change his nation's attitudes about the physically disabled; Sue and Lawrence Brooks, a New England judge and his wife who tirelessly spoke out for civil rights in the US; and Sister Huang Roushan, a nun who for five decades has worked with China's despised lepers. The author is also drawn to those who exude edgy intelligence, energy, or capacity for growth, including Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, Solzhenitsyn, and David Halberstam—and these sketches crackle with life (RFK was ``hard eyed, hard faced, hard minded, and thin lipped....I was certain his quick eyes did not miss a thing nor his ears a word''). Salisbury also reveals some surprising facts from his Times years, such as that then-city editor A. M. Rosenthal forbade any mention of Malcolm X in the newspaper of record. But some of the author's subjects are bound to produce head-scratching regarding their bravery: Zhou En-lai's greatest assets, for instance, seem to have been the survival skills of a ``gentleman courtier,'' and Khrushchev talked a better game against his party apparatchiks than he played. And what are we to make of this summary of the achievement of Red Storm Over China author Edgar Snow?: ``Certainly Snow could not get Mao to reveal the negatives, to detail the bloodiness of the Long March, the slaughter of the landlords, the infighting with his Russian peers. But those are details.'' Details? Lively sketches of some of the most fascinating people of our time—though a few will remain ``heroes'' to Salisbury alone. (First printing of 25,000)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8027-1217-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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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