A welcome account of politics in action, and for the best of causes.



A driving force in the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act looks back on a long career of activism.

“An Occupation Army of Cripples Has Taken Over the San Francisco Federal Building.” So shouted a newspaper headline in the wake of one particularly vocal protest. According to disability rights activist Heumann, that was fine. “People weren’t used to thinking of us as fighters—when they thought about us at all,” she observes. Until the 1980s, disabled people were largely made invisible, with no easy means of access to the systems of transportation, employment, and other goods that the rest of the population often takes for granted. The author, who was paralyzed after a bout of childhood polio, might have been shunted off to an institution, as one doctor recommended, which was the usual practice in 1949. Instead, her parents, orphans of the Holocaust, resisted. The system did not make much allowance for her outside such an institution. At first, she was taught by a teacher who came to her home for two and a half hours a week, then sent to “Health Conservation 21,” a New York school system program in which students were expected to remain “until we were twenty-one years old, at which point we were supposed to enter a sheltered workshop.” Instead, Heumann distinguished herself academically and got involved in the drafting of legislation that would effectively add disability to the classes of protected citizens under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To do so, she had to make the case that “discrimination against disabled people existed,” something that many people did not wish to acknowledge. Then she had to find allies inside government on top of battling a host of foes, including conservative politicians and businesses “worried about what ADA would cost, in time and money.” Heumann prevailed, and following passage of the ADA after years of agitation, she worked for the World Bank and was appointed a representative of the Obama administration to advance civil rights for disabled persons internationally.

A welcome account of politics in action, and for the best of causes.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1929-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?