Though well-documented and richly detailed, this book is unlikely to captivate readers who do not have a special interest in...

FIVE CHIEFS

A SUPREME COURT MEMOIR

An informative and intermittently engaging account of Justice Stevens' tenure on the Supreme Court.

Stevens, who joined the Court in 1975 and retired in 2010, at the age of 90, was the third-longest-serving justice in the Court's history and its oldest member at the time of his retirement. He served under five Chief Justices, beginning with Fred Vinson and ending with John Roberts Jr.; the book is divided into sections that detail his recollections of the Court under each Chief. For the most part neatly structured and concise, the book's clarity is occasionally compromised by gratuitous legalese. It's not always clear how or why he has chosen to share a certain memory or observation or describe the ruling in a particular case. At times he veers into meandering personal anecdote, waxing rhapsodic about the warm handshakes he shared with his fellow justices, their morning coffee breaks, lavish holiday parties and “Nino” Scalia's “wonderfully spontaneous sense of humor.” It is touchingly clear that Stevens loved his time as a member of the Court, but only the most dedicated Supreme Court aficionado is likely to care about the metal spittoons next to each justice's chair or the toggle switch they use to turn on their microphones. Stevens' memory is sharp, his tone is affable and his storytelling has charming folksy quality, but as a whole this memoir is reminiscent of an exceptionally long-winded speech given by the guest of honor at a retirement party.

Though well-documented and richly detailed, this book is unlikely to captivate readers who do not have a special interest in the Supreme Court.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-19980-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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