Although he promises important new information about Joseph Conrad's life, most of what is new in this hefty biography from Meyers (D.H. Lawrence, 1990, etc.) is of minor significance. For a great writer, Conrad had an unusual life, growing up as the child of Polish revolutionaries, becoming a young seaman in English merchant ships, sailing to the Far East, commanding a small steamship penetrating the depths of the Congo, and struggling against huge odds to write in English some of the greatest stories and novels of the past century. All this has been covered by Jocelyn Baines (1960), Norman Sherry (1966, 1971), Frederick R. Karl (1979), and most importantly by Zdzislaw Najder (1983). Drawing on these and on the now-appearing collection of Conrad's letters, plus occasional other items recently come to light, Meyers has thrown together a decent survey of what is known of Conrad's life, together with some minor additions and speculations of his own. But this is not a critical biography, and it is certainly not a major new interpretation of the life and works. Meyers it seems mainly wants to show off new bits of biographical trivia that he has accumulated. The level of much of this is demonstrated by the concluding sentence of chapter three: ``In fact, his life had been radically changed—for the third time—by a series of events that began with an infection between his buttocks.'' In a self-justifying preface, Meyers claims to present new information about many aspects of Conrad's life, ``most importantly, his love affair in 1916 with the wild and beautiful American journalist Jane Anderson, who became a traitor in World War Two.'' And Meyers does breathlessly tell more about her, thanks largely to an old lover and her FBI file. But by his later years Conrad was no longer writing anything of interest anyway, so what influence this fling and she had was of little consequence. And so is most of what is ``new'' in this book.

Pub Date: April 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-684-19230-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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