Despite Posnanski’s sympathy for his Ivy-educated, Brooklyn street-fighting subject, the book never escapes from the pall of...

PATERNO

Sensitively shaded portrait of the late Penn State football coach, an ethical man who failed to “go to the ball” when it really meant something.

When former Sports Illustrated reporter Posnanski, now a senior writer for the website Sports on Earth, set out to write Paterno’s biography, it looked like a dream assignment: The author would be in intimate contact with Paterno and his family, with access to his files about the Penn State football program. This book does have that intimate, backstage feel, and Posnanski tells a story no one else is ever going to get. His voice is warm, but frequently touched by melancholy, because it recounts Paterno’s shattering fall from grace after Jerry Sandusky, the team’s defensive coordinator, was convicted on 45 counts of child molestation. Posnanski offers a number of scenarios to contextualize Paterno’s failure to investigate the allegations that led to Sandusky’s conviction, most persuasively his protectiveness of the program and conviction that the problem could be dealt with in-house. Posnanski draws for readers a man who had a passion for education and saw his players as students first; Penn State athletes had a terrific graduation rate. He would pepper pep talks with Shakespeare; Virgil was his guide. “You have to listen for the divine word that tells you your destiny,” Paterno said to Posnanski. The author charts the many highs and lows of a 61-year career in the voices of both friends and foes. He also traces the dwindling scope of Paterno’s idealism, as the coach grew more crotchety and remote in later years.

Despite Posnanski’s sympathy for his Ivy-educated, Brooklyn street-fighting subject, the book never escapes from the pall of the debacle that ended Paterno’s career.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-5749-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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