Useful reading for anyone interested in helping to change a deeply flawed system.

GIDEON'S PROMISE

A PUBLIC DEFENDER MOVEMENT TO TRANSFORM CRIMINAL JUSTICE

An indictment of the U.S. criminal justice system, which treats the majority of defendants as ciphers—or worse.

Rapping, a public defender who has received a MacArthur award for his pioneering work, explains how his career has led him to spearhead much-needed reforms. After struggling against recalcitrant judges, prosecutors, and even fellow public defenders in numerous jurisdictions, the author decided that the path to meaningful change for indigent defendants would need to come from public defenders themselves. Throughout the book, filled with detailed case studies of justice gone awry, Rapping describes the heavy caseloads and lack of funds with which most public defenders struggle, which means that their clients receive almost no attention. Rather than seeking courtroom trials for clients, besieged public defenders accept plea bargains for defendants without even exploring the possibility of an acquittal or a reduction of a prosecutor’s charges. “The prosecution,” writes the author, “has developed a formidable arsenal…to coerce people into giving up the protections at the heart of our justice system, and now only one in twenty Americans convicted of a crime even experience a trial.” The method Rapping devised emphasizes a “client-centered defense,” in which men and women represented by public defenders are more than just a case on paper and are “treated with dignity in the system.” The approach morphed into an organization called Gideon’s Promise, named for Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the state must provide an attorney to those who cannot afford one. As Rapping documents, state legislatures, prosecutors, and judges have often resisted the intention of the court ruling, leading to countless travesties. Rapping tellingly quotes one judge who saw through the resistance: “While we all may not be able to agree on what justice looks like, surely we can agree on what injustice looks like.”

Useful reading for anyone interested in helping to change a deeply flawed system.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8070-6462-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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