A worthy work that draws on previously unknown correspondence to give a lively, from-the-saddle view of life as a rebel...

CAVALRYMAN OF THE LOST CAUSE

A BIOGRAPHY OF J.E.B. STUART

A sturdy life of the Confederacy’s knight-errant, “the bold and dashing cavalier” who evoked chivalry in a theater of carnage and slaughter.

Born in 1833 in Virginia, James Ewell Brown Stuart was a middling cadet at West Point and a touch undistinguished as an officer on the Western frontier, where the Comanches managed to elude his cavalry scouts. Nevertheless, writes Civil War historian Wert (The Sword of Lincoln: The Army of the Potomac, 2005, etc.), Stuart advanced in the officers’ ranks in the federal army. Perhaps his crowning moment was serving alongside senior officer Robert E. Lee in suppressing the abolitionist John Brown’s attack on the armory at Harpers Ferry. Stuart sided with Virginia in the secession and, owing in part to his friendship with Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and Lee, particularly the former, he achieved high command in the Confederate forces. Though pious and a nonsmoker and nondrinker, Stuart was Jackson’s opposite in taking a joyous view of life, a lightness that delighted his soldiers, even if many complained that he was also a stern taskmaster and even tyrant who told his soldiers on the battlefield, “You don’t want to go back to camp I know; it’s stupid there and all the fun is out here.” Under Stuart, Virginia troops approached the federal capital several times; the Virginia cavalry also did outstanding service at battles across the state. Stuart was brave and daring, writes Wert, if too sensitive to his public image. His vaunted charge at Gettysburg was tactically questionable and cost many lives, and in the retreat he broke from Lee’s force to conduct an ill-advised raid, which leads Wert to conclude that “Stuart failed Lee and the army in the reckoning at Gettysburg.” It would not be the last poor decision Stuart made, but he had the good fortune—doubtless Stuart would have considered it such—to be felled in battle and be enlisted in the Confederate pantheon.

A worthy work that draws on previously unknown correspondence to give a lively, from-the-saddle view of life as a rebel horseman.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7432-7819-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more