The author of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, etc., is portrayed here as homosexual, voyeur, masochist, scientist, and social revolutionary. The first so-called Kinsey Report (1948) blasted Victorian morality by presenting statistical analyses of searching face-to- face interviews with thousands of American men who revealed sexual behavior that was shocking and liberating at the same time. Most men said they masturbated; many had premarital and extramarital sex; many had homoerotic experiences; and a small percentage had sex with animals. If that information—and the much milder revelations in the 1953 Kinsey Report on women—seems old hat now, it created a furor at the time that led all the way from American church pulpits to Congress (where, as recently as 1995, a bill was introduced calling for an investigation of Kinsey's influence on sex education). Beginning with Kinsey's guilt-ridden childhood in New Jersey and an unhappy relationship with an authoritarian father, Jones (History/Univ. of Houston; Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments, 1981) describes the scientist's life in the kind of microscopic detail that would have pleased the man who began his career as an entomologist. After earning a Ph.D. from Harvard, Kinsey settled on the faculty of Indiana University. His interest shifted from insects to human sexual behavior because, he said, of his students' questions. Supported for many years by funds from the Rockefeller Foundation, he collected countless sexual histories, including those of homosexuals, pedophiles, prisoners, and prostitutes. Citing many anonymous sources, the author also reports that Kinsey privately practiced what he preached about sexual liberation: increasingly painful masochistic techniques, homosexual encounters, and later, with the staff of the Kinsey Institute, wife- and husband-swapping (episodes that were frequently filmed in the attic of Kinsey's home). An exhaustive, compelling portrait of a scientist hailed as both a ``genius'' and a ``dirty old man.''

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-393-04086-0

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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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