The story—apparently definitive—of Anastasia, the fourth daughter of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Free-lance journalist Lovell (The New York Times, The Washington Post) writes of Anastasia's escape at age 16 from the 1917 assassination of her family, of her desperate but futile attempts to establish her identity, of her struggle to overcome the fictional representations of her in films (one starring Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar), songs, plays, and novels—and of his own experience writing this book, working with the aged recluse (who believed him to be a reincarnation of her father), the ``Czarina of Charlottesville, Va.'' that she had become. Curiously, Anastasia's true life is more of a fairy tale than the fictions: a foundling of questionable origins; rescued from a suicide attempt in a Berlin canal; periodically committed to asylums for mental aberrations and tantrums; tested on the basis of a scar, a disfigured toe, an anecdote or riddle; and, finally, rescued by a Virginian gentleman, John Manahan, who married her to keep her from being deported and ended up sharing her bizarre world. Unfortunately, her disagreeable personality made her more the witch than the princess—demanding, argumentative, deceitful, imperious, suspicious, disheveled (except when one N.Y.C. hostess gave her a charge account at B. Altman); surrounded by legions of cats, dogs, and mementos of all sorts; and consumed by hatred for the British royal family, who, she claimed, refused to recognize her because they had confiscated her dowry. She died at age 83, in 1984. Lovell is a splendid narrator, balanced, sympathetic, with a rare eye for the ironic (Anna reveals her identity to him while sitting in the lobby of a movie house where King Kong is playing). The major irony: how a Russian female without beauty, charm, money, talent, or training managed to live for most of the 20th century without ever having to work, existing on the faith, however imperfect, of those who needed to believe in her. A great, absorbing read by a gifted storyteller. (Two eight-page photo inserts—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-89526-536-2

Page Count: 502

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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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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