Self-serving, as a politician’s memoir will be—and almost perfectly unrevealing.

HERE’S WHERE I STAND

A MEMOIR

Who is America’s greatest enemy? Not bin Laden, not Hussein—no, the bad guys, suggests right-wing doyen Helms, are the liberal media and anyone of a liberal bent.

Helms—once a sportswriter and TV executive before departing for politics’ greener pastures—has nothing but scorn for the press, which coddles the nation’s foes and otherwise impedes the spread of Republican values. Thus, “When it became apparent that [Panamanian president Manuel] Noriega was deeply involved in drug smuggling, gun running, and money laundering, even many in the liberal media concluded that he had to go.” And thus, “Even though the liberal media tried to belittle [George W. Bush’s] accomplishments, his record as Governor stood up to the scrutiny of critics.” And so forth. Just as bad are the liberals in the Senate, who, Helms recalls, opposed him at every turn: the dupes who gave away the Panama Canal; the unholy triumvirate of Carol Moseley Braun (an African-American who opposed Helms’s defense of the Confederate flag), Teddy Kennedy (“Without his opposition, we conservatives very likely would not have done so well in the past thirty years” and John Kerry (“a bit arrogant and overbearing,” even though, Helms recalls, he sided with Kerry in calling for the Iran-Contra hearings). The digging at the presumed liberal elite aside, Helms’s memoir is mostly a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation affair, a forced essay punctuated by all the usual stump-speech platitudes about how we owe God thanks for “letting us live in America” and how the “terrorists” in Iraq “believed we were soft and not willing to stand up to their cowardly attacks.” There is almost nothing in Helms’s pages of the hard work of doing politics in the Senate, with all the compromises and back-door deals that entails, and entirely too much of Helms’s celebratory but insubstantial reminiscences of friendships with the likes of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and the sitting president.

Self-serving, as a politician’s memoir will be—and almost perfectly unrevealing.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-50884-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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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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