A marvelous portrait of a professional woman ahead of her time whose relationship with FDR sheds new light on his...

THE GATEKEEPER

MISSY LEHAND, FDR, AND THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE PARTNERSHIP THAT DEFINED A PRESIDENCY

Franklin Roosevelt’s longtime loyal personal secretary earns a much-needed, balanced portrait.

Although the boss and his devoted factotum were often thrown together intimately over 20 years to tackle his correspondence and brainstorm on speeches and personnel, they were probably not lovers, asserts FDR historian, journalist, and native Georgian Smith (A Necessary War, 2013) in her lively study. A daughter of working-class Boston Catholic parents, Missy LeHand (1898-1944) was an ambitious, high school–educated, trained secretary when, in 1920, FDR’s campaign chairman, Charles McCarthy, brought her into his circle. Even before his first election to New York State governor in 1928, LeHand proved her skill and devotion as FDR’s law secretary and right arm during the years “adrift” after he was stricken by polio. Moreover, while his wife, Eleanor, detested the role of hostess, LeHand was adept and polished, even garnering publicity as the president’s “Super-Secretary” and best dressed among the capital’s women. Through thick and thin, uncomplaining about being on call in his residence for late-night working (whether in Georgia or the White House), LeHand became part of the indispensable White House “secretariat,” including other core members Louis Howe, Steve Early, and Marvin McIntyre. Smith describes LeHand’s job for FDR as chief of staff, when the term was not yet used. Yet with so few women in such high-end jobs, LeHand suffered the inevitable sexism and presumed blurring of duties, as Smith makes very clear. She noted the eclipse of her reputation after her death, thanks to disparaging portraits by the president’s son Elliott in his memoir, An Untold Story (1973), among others. The effects of childhood rheumatic fever and the untold stress of these hardworking years eventually caught up with her in 1941, when she was struck by a massive stroke and removed from the lofty heights of power.

A marvelous portrait of a professional woman ahead of her time whose relationship with FDR sheds new light on his personality and decisions.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1496-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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