An accessible and expansive look at the development of the atom bomb, but those looking for a deeper understanding of...

THE GENERAL AND THE GENIUS

GROVES AND OPPENHEIMER—THE UNLIKELY PARTNERSHIP THAT BUILT THE ATOM BOMB

Former University of Texas vice president Kunetka (Shadow Man, 1988, etc.) follows the long road to the atom bomb.

In this nearly 500-page book, the author has plenty of room to explore both the planning and building of the atom bomb. He begins with short biographical sketches of his two primary subjects, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) and Gen. Leslie Richard Groves (1896-1970) of the Army Corps of Engineers, who, in addition to heading the Manhattan project operation, also oversaw the building of the Pentagon. Although billed as the history of “the unlikely partnership that built the atom bomb,” that story is sometimes buried beneath the large cast of secondary characters. However, the narrative is often a fascinating look at one of the pivotal moments in both military and human history, and Kunetka deftly weaves together science, politics, and personal color to bring to life the extraordinary circumstances facing his subjects. The author also communicates both the urgency and the unpredictability of the entire operation. When Kunetka focuses on the interaction between Oppenheimer and Groves, he clearly illustrates their unique dynamic and the impressive productivity of their working relationship. However, given the sheer volume of information, those instances are few and far between. More often, Oppenheimer and Groves are footnotes to each other’s stories, while other men and women become the focus of each section. The book works best as an overview of the Los Alamos operation and the Manhattan project rather than an examination of Oppenheimer and Groves.

An accessible and expansive look at the development of the atom bomb, but those looking for a deeper understanding of Oppenheimer and Groves should look elsewhere—either Ray Monk’s Robert Oppenheimer (2013) or Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s American Prometheus (2005).

Pub Date: July 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62157-338-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Regnery History

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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