A readable, evenhanded work that would be appropriate for younger readers as well.

AMERICAN GENERAL

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN

A sympathetic look at the Union general with an eye toward correcting inaccuracies in the record.

The late historian Eisenhower (Soldiers and Statesmen: Reflection on Leadership, 2012, etc.), son of the president and a general and West Point graduate in his own right, does a service in presenting this solid, useful biography of William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), the great general and comrade of Ulysses S. Grant. In his unadorned prose, Eisenhower conveys the stalwart, no-nonsense nature of this dedicated soldier who engineered the modern concept of “total war” and, like Grant, was not afraid to fight. Born in Lancaster, Ohio, Sherman was sent to live with a foster family, the Ewings, when his prominent father died. He stayed loyal to the first woman he loved, daughter Ellen Ewing, and later married her. Like fellow Ohioan and West Point graduate Grant, Sherman floundered during peacetime, resisting his in-laws’ pressure to take up family employment. He was dismayed at the disintegration of the Union and believed presciently that the Civil War would be won in the West, specifically in terms of who controlled the Mississippi. Under Gen. Winfield Scott, Sherman’s brigade at the battle of Bull Run suffered high casualties, and he expected to be “cashiered.” Instead, he was promoted and vindicated himself at Shiloh, despite his periodic depression that rendered him temporarily “unbalanced.” Under Grant, Sherman found his “niche,” and Eisenhower depicts their warm friendship as they protected each other through the key battles of Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Kennesaw Mountain and Atlanta. Grant gave Sherman total credit for the revolutionary concept of a “march to the sea.” The author tempers criticism of Sherman’s supposed ruthlessness with accounts of his fairness toward civilians and his saving of Savannah.

A readable, evenhanded work that would be appropriate for younger readers as well.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-451-47135-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: NAL/Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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