A low-key, well-balanced tribute.

A REMARKABLE MOTHER

Former president Carter (Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope, 2007, etc.) affectionately remembers his mother, the redoubtable Miss Lillian.

When he was governor of Georgia, Carter visited her at the family home in Plains. “Mama,” he confided, “I’ve decided to run for president.” “President of what?” she wanted to know. On reflection, she admitted, “Well I was pleased. I figured that if he was elected president, someone would open a good restaurant in Plains.” Blunt without malice and disarmingly unfettered, Lillian Carter was a powerful force, remembered here by her son with not only fondness, but great respect for her role as an agent for good. She shared whatever fortune she had without making a big deal of it; knew a bum when she saw one (Joseph McCarthy, for instance, and not the tramps who knocked on her farmhouse door during the Depression); and “just ignored the pervasive restraints of racial segregation.” When her husband died in 1953, the author noted that she “seemed to be searching for whatever was provocative, adventurous, challenging, and gratifying.” Thus she spent eight years as a housemother to a rowdy Auburn University frat, lent her nursing talents to the Peace Corps for two years in a small village in India and became her son’s goodwill ambassador. While she tirelessly campaigned for her son and served as the face of his administration on countless occasions, mostly state funerals, she also took care of herself, tuning out the world when her chosen soap opera aired and enjoying a strong toddy in the late afternoon. The author isn’t shy to note that Miss Lillian could be high maintenance—“She was quite harsh in her criticism when any of us failed to make a regular pilgrimage to pay our respects”—but Carter makes it clear that she passed on her unvarnished decency and sense of fair play to her son.

A low-key, well-balanced tribute.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6245-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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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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