Of course, there are still questions (“Certainty plays little role in the history of Hatshepsut”), but Cooney’s detective...

THE WOMAN WHO WOULD BE KING

HATSHEPSUT'S RISE TO POWER IN ANCIENT EGYPT

Cooney (Egyptian Art and Architecture/UCLA) re-creates the life of “the first woman to exercise long-term rule over Egypt as a king.”

The author endeavors to discover why history rejected Hatshepsut’s remarkable achievements. Twenty-five years after her death, her surviving co-king decided to obliterate her image and name from carvings throughout the land. As Cooney admits, this biography could only be based on conjecture and guesswork, but the addition of expertise makes it well worth reading. The author’s Egyptology background provides the nitty-gritty of daily life and animates this king (at the time, there was no word for “queen”). The surviving buildings and carvings of Hatshepsut’s 22-year reign serve as evidence of her accomplishments. Upon the death of her father, Thutmose, Hatshepsut was married, as was customary, to her brother, the short-lived Thutmose II. She was already Egypt’s high priestess, and she now became the King’s Great Wife. Widowed after a few years, she became regent for the infant Thutmose III, making her the most powerful person in Egypt. Eventually, she had herself crowned king and reigned with him until her death. How she gathered and maintained her power is simple enough: money. It was a period of strong trade, uninterrupted annual inundation of the Nile River and successful empire building. Hatshepsut professionalized the priesthood and the army, and she spent fortunes expanding the empire and quickly rewarding those who served her. Furthermore, as high priestess, it was she who delivered Amun-Re’s rules and decisions. The image of this woman became increasingly masculinized as her reign progressed, reflecting the age-old distrust of a woman with authority.

Of course, there are still questions (“Certainty plays little role in the history of Hatshepsut”), but Cooney’s detective work finally brings out the story of a great woman’s reign.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-95676-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

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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