Memoirist, biographer and translator Baxter (Von Sternberg, 2010, etc.) turns his sensuous walking tours of Paris into the written word, with gratifying results.

The author does what he does best—short chapters that explore some engaging nugget of Parisian culture or history, in a pace and voice that are both gentle. Goaded by a friend to put his voluminous knowledge of Paris to use as a walking-tour guide to literary and other artistic haunts, he accepted the challenge and found a calling. Baxter enjoys amusing and being amused, and he has pocketfuls of colorful background stories that create atmosphere. He is of the Henry Miller school—give him the boulevards known for sex and crime, food and drink, the opium dens and the absinthe bars, the art galleries selling salacious photographs—and he pulls it all off with an air of charm and calm. On his tours, the plans are open-ended; he digresses as needs be, perhaps into a story about how the lock to his house broke when he was about to leave for Christmas Eve at his relatives’, or the curious interlude with a performance artist claiming to have known Marlene Dietrich. Readers can feel his elation at being out and about, experiencing the antique weather in the small passageways, cruising down Haussmann’s sidewalks, dropping into cafés famous and obscure and exploring anything Hemingway. He is the flâneur’s flâneur: “Visitors didn’t want their Paris. They wanted mine. Plenty of time when they got home to read Flaubert or a history of the French Revolution. What they wanted now was to reach out and touch the living flesh—to devour and be devoured.” Walking through Paris with Baxter is really what bien-être is all about.


Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-199854-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011



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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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

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