A hard-hitting critique of a nation “in mortal peril.”



The longest-serving member of Congress recalls a time when government worked for the people.

In a feisty memoir, Michigan representative Dingell (b. 1926), a Democrat, looks back at nearly six decades of public service, recounting some of his proudest accomplishments, toughest fights, and the regrettable transformation of Congress from “largely a place of comity and mutual respect across the aisle” to a rancorous, partisan body reflecting the “cancer of cynicism eating away at our country” under a president unfit for office. Half of the memoir celebrates the career of the author’s father, a congressman who championed social justice and economic fairness. When John Dingell Sr. died in 1955, his son was persuaded to run for his seat; at the age of 29, he won a special election. Serving with 11 presidents and 10 Speakers of the House and casting more than 25,000 votes, Dingell saw Congress pass bipartisan clean-air amendments, the Affordable Care Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Endangered Species Act. He also witnessed the rise of the tea party, which populated the House of Representatives with Republicans who had run “against the very idea of the federal government.” Now retired, he watches in frustration as “Republi-cons work overtime to destroy all we’ve achieved and more,” apparently intent “on driving things backward, to return to an America that was less clean, less safe, less fair.” To counter the “rogue president” and his supporters who, “like lemmings, will follow him over any cliff,” Dingell advises “courage and constant vigilance.” Though it may take decades to restore civility, economic justice, and governmental integrity, he offers some concrete suggestions for achieving those goals: full participation in the electoral system, elimination of money in campaigns, the protection of an independent press, and, most drastically, “the end of minority rule in our legislative and executive branches.” With no prospect of eliminating the Electoral College, Dingell advocates a grass-roots movement aimed at abolishing the Senate by combining the two chambers into one.

A hard-hitting critique of a nation “in mortal peril.”

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-257199-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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?