A welcome new look at Dos Passos and another sad chapter in the life of Hemingway.

THE AMBULANCE DRIVERS

HEMINGWAY, DOS PASSOS, AND A FRIENDSHIP MADE AND LOST IN WAR

The story of the close yet volatile friendship between John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway.

Biographies, volumes of letters, and memoirs have thoroughly, and repeatedly, revealed the quality of Hemingway’s relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, and Sara and Gerald Murphy, among others: friendships that Hemingway viciously ended. “By 1936,” writes biographer Morris (Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, 2015, etc.), “Hemingway’s list of lost friends was lengthy.” Morris adds to that list novelist and journalist Dos Passos, whom Hemingway valued for many years—until he did not. Morris’ lively biography of their relationship offers a fresh view of Dos Passos, drawn from published and archival sources, but adds little to the portrait of Hemingway already well established: his love affair with a nurse who tended him during World War I, marriage to Hadley Richardson and early years in Paris, his early fame with The Sun Also Rises, his belligerent competitiveness, betrayals, life in Key West and Havana, and his suicide. The two men could not have been more different: Dos Passos, a friend recalled, was “so shy that he seems cold as an empty cellar with the door locked when you meet him.” Hemingway was brash and gregarious; Dos Passos, irritatingly prickly, “hated small talk.” Dos Passos, politically engaged, actively protested injustice and oppression; Hemingway ignored politics until the Spanish Civil War. They met briefly as ambulance drivers in 1917, but their friendship began later, when both were at the starts of their careers. Besides drinking and socializing, they became trusted readers of each other’s work. Hemingway gratefully called Dos Passos his “most bitterly severe critic.” Inevitably, though, their friendship devolved. Morris cites “a deep and fundamental difference” in their perception of war, but he portrays Hemingway as so mean, vengeful, and threatened by any other writer’s success that their friendship could not have been anything but doomed.

A welcome new look at Dos Passos and another sad chapter in the life of Hemingway.

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-306-82383-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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