ARCHIBALD COX

CONSCIENCE OF A NATION

The jurist who gave Richard Nixon fits receives his due in a satisfying biography. Gormley (Law/Duquesne Univ.) approaches Cox as an exponent of a particularly tough, independent-minded, Yankee kind of approach to the law. Born in 1912, Cox came of age in a time when the legal profession was nearly universally respected and when whole lineages devoted themselves to the practice of law (Gormley notes that Cox's great-grandfather William Maxwell Evarts defended Andrew Johnson when impeachment proceedings were undertaken against him in 1868). After clerking for the eminent federal judge Learned Hand, Cox became a government labor lawyer, then a Harvard professor, and then entered politics somewhat reluctantly as a speechwriter for presidential candidate John Kennedy. Despite his solid rÇsumÇ, Cox was seemingly unprepared for the scrutiny that would attach to his work as the government's special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation of 1973. Gormley examines Nixon's charge that Cox was a politically motivated hit man who, with his staff, ``bored like termites through the whole executive branch,'' noting that Cox was in fact something of a legal conservative who criticized such rulings as Roe v. Wade and who found the whole business of turning up evidence against a sitting president personally distasteful. Gormley gives a careful account of the events leading up to Cox's dismissal at Nixon's orders; the man who fired him was a federal judge named Robert Bork, whose role as hatchet man would come back to haunt him more than a decade later as a nominee for the Supreme Court. Students of the Watergate years will find a few other gems in Gormley's pages, including an admission from Nixon's chief of staff Alexander Haig that the president ``could well be guilty.'' Otherwise, this well-written biography will be of most interest to students of law in the public interest. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-201-40713-2

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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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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