Just the thing for the aspiring lawyer out to do good in the world.

NOTORIOUS RBG

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF RUTH BADER GINSBURG

Who would have thought a bespectacled, elderly jurist would become a pop-culture icon, feted in song and story so widely that she might be likened to a hip-hop star?

Though the hip-hop star in question, the late Notorious B.I.G., is an inapposite choice, MSNBC correspondent Carmon and attorney Knizhnik, building on the latter’s popular law-studies blog, serve up something between a biography and a scrapbook. If you want to understand how, through tireless work and endless determination, the scholarly RBG should have overcome discrimination to rise to the top of the judicial pyramid, then this book serves, but so too if you want “only to learn to get buff like an octogenarian who can do twenty push-ups.” Ginsburg starts on the elliptical, then moves on with her trainer to do planks, “where he does his best to knock the tiny justice down.” By this point, readers will understand that nothing can knock Justice Ginsburg down, not cancer or the death of a beloved spouse or having to see Samuel Alito every workday. “RBG had a job to do,” Carmon and Knizhnik cheer, “and she wasn’t done yet.” The book goes beyond admiring, and though it is generally courtly toward the rest of the court, Ginsburg is its unlikely dazzling star. By the end of this celebration, in which the authors make some pertinent, serious legal points, even readers disinclined to think of the justice as a pop icon will find new respect for her—unless, that is, they’re ideologically bound not to, for RBG emerges as an unshakable champion of women’s rights and, horrors, as a classic liberal. Besides, RBG writes a mean dissent—e.g., “This is not the first time this court has ordered a cramped interpretation of Title VII.”

Just the thing for the aspiring lawyer out to do good in the world.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-241583-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 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 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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