A penetrating, firsthand view of history.



A timely reminder of a notorious scandal that resulted in a president’s impeachment.

In 1973, Wine-Banks, now a legal analyst for MSNBC and formerly Illinois solicitor general and deputy attorney general, joined a government task force assigned to investigate the Nixon administration’s burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. In her absorbing debut memoir, the author recalls her experiences as a young lawyer participating in what was then “the biggest political scandal in US history”: questioning witnesses, wresting tapes from the White House, dealing with blatant sexism from some of her male colleagues and superiors, and, at the same time, facing the deterioration of her marriage. Among the witnesses, Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods proved frustrating for Wine-Banks, who worried that her demeanor in confronting the stalwart Woods reflected her “youth and vulnerability.” Repeatedly questioned about the erasure of 18 minutes from a crucial White House tape, Woods maintained that she had done it accidentally. Also frustrating was the wily Jeb Magruder, whom the author characterizes as a consummate liar, whose testimony was vital for the case. “Often, when I questioned Magruder,” Wine-Banks writes, “I could feel my chest tightening and my voice turning harsh and scolding.” Despite Nixon’s refusal to hand over the key tapes, claiming that no court could “compel a president to any action,” a grand jury, comprised of ordinary Americans, did just that, “unafraid to challenge the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world.” The author’s portrayal makes the impeachment process, which received bipartisan support, seem almost quaint. Today, she sees history repeating itself in a “more complicated political, social, and cultural landscape than existed in the 1970s.” “Like Nixon,” she writes, “Trump is corrupt, amoral, vindictive, paranoid, ruthless, and narcissistic.” But he is more dangerous, she believes, “because he exceeds Nixon in hatefulness and venality” and “puts in peril the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded.”

A penetrating, firsthand view of history.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-24432-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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 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...


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?