A riveting biography of a remarkable man.



The making of an unlikely hero.

To his prominent and wealthy relatives, Raoul Wallenberg (b. 1912) seemed not dependable enough to entrust with a responsible position in the family’s bank. As journalist Carlberg depicts him in this absorbing, masterful biography, Wallenberg was “charming, extroverted and creative, but also somewhat impulsive.” “He was very much a salesman,” a friend recalled. “He was almost always happy. And funny,” amusing his friends, in the 1930s, with imitations of Hitler, Churchill, and Stalin. After training as an architect at the University of Michigan and then working in South Africa and Haifa, Wallenberg returned to his native Sweden to seek employment. In 1941, he became an instructor in the National Home Guard, earning praise for being “more skilled and creative…than many of the career military.” Soon, he found a paying job as foreign director of a Swedish food import company owned by a Hungarian Jew. That was the position he held when, in June 1944, he was tapped to carry out a rescue mission for the American War Refugee Board, in alliance with Sweden. Multilingual, with high-level Hungarian business contacts, he seemed the perfect person: “highly skilled, of good reputation, [and] a non-Jew.” Only Stockholm’s chief rabbi was skeptical, concerned that Wallenberg’s real motivation was “a desire for adventure.” Carlberg’s tense, detailed narrative traces Wallenberg’s work in Budapest, beginning in July 1944. Starting with a handful of employees, by year’s end, he had 300. His talent at diplomacy—he had dinner with the furious, alcoholic Adolph Eichmann—was matched with bold subterfuge, as he managed to put huge numbers of Jews under Swedish protection. But efforts to exterminate them were relentless. Wallenberg placed his hopes in the Russians; although Soviet troops freed over 100,000 Jews living in a sealed ghetto, in 1945, Wallenberg was arrested as a spy and disappeared.

A riveting biography of a remarkable man.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68144-490-1

Page Count: 640

Publisher: MacLehose/Quercus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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 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...


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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