A memoir that reads like an epilogue to a life of accomplishment.

A FULL LIFE

REFLECTIONS AT NINETY

Notes at 90 from a former president at peace.

There is little in the way of score settling in the latest from Carter (A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, 2014, etc.) and not much that is likely to ignite controversy the way that Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006) did. With his long-standing marriage, the Carter Center, and a Nobel Peace Prize, along with more than two-dozen books that have “provided a much-needed source of income for my family,” the author has enjoyed one of the longest and richest lives since leaving the presidency. He has also established himself as a respected and activist public figure, and he still can’t figure out why the press treated him so negatively during his one term in Washington. “I had negative coverage in forty-six of the forty-eight months I served….This was a problem we could never understand or resolve but just decided to accommodate what we couldn’t correct,” he writes. The presidency and the campaign for re-election receive short shrift here, perhaps as Carter has written about them at length before. Instead, he writes, “some of the more personal and intimate events in my life are covered here for the first time,” including his military years, a career in which he might have remained (and which wife Rosalynn resented him for leaving) if the death of his father hadn’t returned him to the family farm. Carter pays only cursory attention to his political ascent as a perennial outsider who became state senator, governor, and, in the wake of Watergate, president. Only an offhand remark on a Gallup poll of 32 “names of potential Democratic nominees. Mine was not among them,” suggests the surprise and significance of his triumph. The drawings and poems by the author add even more of a personal touch, though crises in his marriage and his “estrangement” from the Obama presidency offer the most noteworthy revelations.

A memoir that reads like an epilogue to a life of accomplishment.

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1563-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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