MARY MCGRORY

THE FIRST QUEEN OF JOURNALISM

Norris is plainly in love with his fascinating subject, which is not only McGrory, but newspaper journalism in general.

Mary McGrory’s life (1918-2004) as a Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington columnist is so interesting that it’s hard to understand why there hasn’t been a book about her until now. Enter Norris (The Disaster Gypsies: Humanitarian Workers in the World's Deadliest Conflicts, 2007, etc.) with this balanced, page-turning biography.

Despite the subtitle, it seems McGrory might have been the last queen as well: in her regal bearing and imperious manner, her influence on politicians and journalists, and her manner of getting others to do her bidding. Early on, it seems a little off-putting that so much is made of her romantic life (or public lack thereof), her attractiveness, and her gender in general. Ultimately, however, being a woman who found her voice and came to power during the McCarthy era is crucial to her journalistic singularity. McGrory may well have been a feminist icon, but she wasn’t above playing the frail female when it worked to her advantage or employing her considerable charms in ways that might undermine journalistic objectivity. She dated the future President John F. Kennedy (once), was propositioned forthrightly by President Lyndon B. Johnson (once), and had a romantic relationship with candidate Eugene McCarthy, whose campaign manager was the true love of her life. She once said, “I would have loved to be a housewife, but it just never happened that way. I want to drop dead in the newsroom.” McGrory reported more aggressively than most columnists and injected more opinion into her pieces than most reporters, making her a curious fit on the news pages of the Washington Star, which she preferred to the op-ed section. When the Star folded, she moved to the Washington Post, where her influence increased but she was never as comfortable. She could be tough, even on her friends, but frequent target Ted Kennedy proclaimed her “poet laureate of American journalism,” and this nuanced portrait provides plenty of evidence.

Norris is plainly in love with his fascinating subject, which is not only McGrory, but newspaper journalism in general.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42971-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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

NIGHT

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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