Prior to his career in government service, Cannon (who died at 93 in 2011) spent years as a journalist, and that training...

GERALD R. FORD

AN HONORABLE LIFE

An advisor to President Gerald Ford (1913–2006) pens an admiring biography of America’s most anomalous and, possibly, most underrated chief executive.

In 1974, America was led by a president and vice president for whom no one had voted. The first in our history appointed to the vice presidency by means of the 25th Amendment, Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned, as Vice President Spiro Agnew had before him, in disgrace. Throughout the course of his administration, Ford faced a country torn by the Watergate scandal, exhausted by the war in Vietnam and mired in an economic depression. Still, even with Congress in the hands of the Democrats, Ford managed to reassure the nation and restore some measure of trust in government. Cannon (Apostle Paul: A Novel, 2005, etc.) moves swiftly over Ford’s early life, education and legal practice, even his distinguished 25-year congressional career. Nor, except for a brief treatment of Ford’s 1980 flirtation with joining the Reagan ticket, is there much about the Michigander’s 29-year post-presidency. Cannon focuses on the Constitutional crisis that brought Ford to high office, the man’s exceptional character, how he dealt with the major issues and how he managed the presidency, particularly the members of his Cabinet. Although Cannon has Ford confessing to a few political sins—a misguided crusade during his congressional years against Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, the cowardly dumping of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller from the ’76 ticket—and faults him for failing to win election in his own right, this insider account persuasively demonstrates that the man was a far better president than campaigner and that, at a particularly low moment in our history, we were perhaps luckier than we knew to have him.

Prior to his career in government service, Cannon (who died at 93 in 2011) spent years as a journalist, and that training shows in this smoothly readable account.

Pub Date: June 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-472-11604-1

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Univ. of Michigan

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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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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