Ross sweeps readers along in Rickenbacker’s thrilling tale.

Energetic look at the World War I ace’s early exploits through the prism of exciting modern changes in America.

In his passionately sympathetic biography, Ross (War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America’s First Frontier, 2009, etc.) finds in Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) a subject as brash, unassuming and heroic as the young American nation at the turn of the 20th century. The author admires the fact that the son of poor, German-speaking Swiss immigrants had so much going against him in the early years and overcame the obstacles through sheer hard work and determination. Luck, another quintessential American ingredient, favored him, as well as the ability to fudge the record when necessary, such as he did about the events surrounding the death of his belligerent father in 1904 after picking a fight with another laborer. At 13, Rickenbacker quit school and went to work, becoming head of the household and breadwinner. A natural leader, Rickenbacker adored mechanical tinkering and invention and parlayed his work in a machine shop into becoming “mechanician” at the Oscar Lear Automobile Company, racing state-of-the-art Frayer-Millers. “Engines have always talked to me,” he asserted, demonstrating his nearly “mystical” ways with them as he began proving himself a winner in races throughout the country. With the United States propelled into the European war in 1917, Rickenbacker talked his way past bigotry against German-Americans, his lack of a gentlemanly education and an eye injury and began flying lessons at Tours Aerodrome, essentially teaching himself in the fragile, unreliable Nieuports that the Germans outclassed in their mightier Albatroses. Aerial dogfights provided plenty of sobering danger and led to the deaths of many of his closest colleagues. In a few short months, Rickenbacker, with 26 kills, was a national hero.

Ross sweeps readers along in Rickenbacker’s thrilling tale.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-03377-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014


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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