Remarkable and remarkably told, as if F. Scott Fitzgerald had penned Batman.

TUXEDO PARK

A WALL STREET TYCOON AND THE SECRET PALACE OF SCIENCE THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF WORLD WAR II

An examination of the remarkable role of the shadowy but powerful “amateur physicist” whose intellect and energy spurred critical scientific research that shortened and helped win WWII.

The author cites the association of Alfred Lee Loomis with her grandfather James Conant (president of Harvard for 20 years) to underscore her fascination with what, in the absence of extensive personal records, sometimes reads like fiction. Shrewd enough as a young investment banker to convert the bulk of his investments into a pile of cash on the brink of the Depression, Loomis got only richer as Wall Street foundered. He had all anyone could want in cars, yachts, and island hideaways (Hilton Head), so he funded his principal avocation: scientific investigation. The physics laboratory he had built into his mansion in the gilt-edged community of Tuxedo Park, New York, matched almost anything industry or academia could offer. At first, the scientific community called him an “eccentric dabbler,” but soon figures like Bohr, Fermi, Einstein, and Ernest Lawrence were cajoled into visits to Tuxedo Park, finding their host to be a serious thinker and accomplished experimenter who could also pour bathtub gin with a steady hand on the butler’s night off. Fascinated by physical phenomena, Loomis had investigated everything from ultrasonics to brain waves as the world moved toward war in 1940. Realizing early on that R&D would be critical to Allied success, he parlayed his influence, charm, and connections (Secretary of War Henry Stimson was a cousin) into a key management role in the refinement of super-secret radar technology and, later, into championing the nuclear fission projects that led to the first atomic bomb. Following a scandalous divorce, Loomis lived out his life in relative obscurity, hastened into oblivion by the intense desire for privacy that had always kept him out of the limelight

Remarkable and remarkably told, as if F. Scott Fitzgerald had penned Batman.

Pub Date: May 9, 2002

ISBN: 0-684-87287-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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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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