“I warped a few things,” says Thompson of his writing. When you’re a radioactive force field of one, what do you expect?...

KINGDOM OF FEAR

LOATHSOME SECRETS OF A STAR-CROSSED CHILD IN THE FINAL DAYS OF THE AMERICAN CENTURY

One of “the last unrepentant public dope fiends” (Fear and Loathing in America, 2000, etc.) is still armed and dangerous after these many years, whether fingering typewriter or pistol.

“Hell, I don’t miss those whispers, those soft groans of fear when I enter a civilized room,” Thompson writes in this collection of political and personal dispatches, attributing the mutterings to the failed understanding that he’s a teenage girl trapped in the body of a 65-year-old doper and career criminal. Maybe, but anybody might quail before someone whose day begins: “I finished my ham and eggs and knocked back some whiskey and picked up my Weatherby Mark V .300 Magnum and a ball of black Opium for dessert and went outside with a fierce kind of joy in my heart.” Thompson is too outrageous ever to grow stale, his storytelling too rockingly mad to ignore: “I had stopped for the moment beside the road to put out a newspaper fire in the backseat. . . .” Put it out with a can of beer, that is, while a mountain lion takes a leap at him from a cliff above. There are vengeful tangents, Old Testament fury, acts of retribution, accidents not waiting to happen but proceeding nonstop. And choice bons mots: “Texas is not the only state full of wealthy freaks with sinister agendas,” or the personally apt but nonetheless scary, “morality is temporary, wisdom is permanent.” The Thompson wisdom on political protest: “A Willingness to Argue, however violently, implies a faith of some basic kind in the antagonist.” On the invasion of Grenada: “low-risk, high-gain, cost-plus.” And more—the whole with enough bile to make a really big custard.

“I warped a few things,” says Thompson of his writing. When you’re a radioactive force field of one, what do you expect? Candent prose that still screws and buckles all it touches.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2003

ISBN: 0-684-87323-0

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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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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