Donne would be pleased with this intelligent, affectionate, articulate telling of his story.

JOHN DONNE

THE REFORMED SOUL

A major biography of the poet and preacher, who knew Shakespeare, accommodated himself to three difficult monarchs and left behind a significant literary legacy.

In his impressive debut, Stubbs moves with ease through the complex life of a man who lived in a time of profound religious, political and cultural upheaval. Because John Donne (1572–1631) was such a public person for much of his life—a poet, a bureaucrat, the Dean of St. Paul’s—and because a number of his regular correspondents kept his letters, his biographer has much documentary evidence to support this account. Born into a Catholic family, Donne learned to adapt his views and behavior to the prevailing political and religious mood. He also, Stubbs ably demonstrates, retained his humanity and moral integrity. He left home early for Oxford but received no degree because he could not sign the religious Oath of Allegiance. (Later, James I made certain that Cambridge awarded Donne a doctorate.) He lived and studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, sailed with Essex and Ralegh, earned a powerful position as secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, spent some time in the House of Commons. But he nearly lost it all in 1601 when he secretly married teenaged Ann More, enraging her family and annoying Queen Elizabeth. Ann subsequently gave birth to a dozen children and died shortly after delivering a stillbirth in August 1617. (Stubbs is not always so specific about dates; a chronology would have improved the book.) By then, Donne had turned his back on the secular world. Noted as a bachelor for his popular satires and sexy poems, he was chastened by poverty and the struggle to support his family; some powerful friends and James’s royal caprices persuaded him to take religious vows early in 1615. He became one of England’s most influential preachers—in his lifetime and beyond.

Donne would be pleased with this intelligent, affectionate, articulate telling of his story.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-393-06260-1

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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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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