An entertaining and informative account of a footnote to the life of one of the 20th century’s most charismatic leaders.

TROTSKY IN NEW YORK, 1917

PORTRAIT OF A RADICAL ON THE EVE OF REVOLUTION

An account of the two months in 1917 when Leon Trotsky “found refuge in the United States,” where he experienced the “last gasp of the Belle Epoque.”

"BRONX MAN LEADS RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.” This unlikely headline ran in the Bronx Home News in November 1917. The spring revolution in Russia that had deposed the czar saw Vladimir Lenin stuck in Zurich and Trotsky in New York City, where he was writing for a Russian-language socialist newspaper. An escaped convict in Russia and persona non grata in most of wartime Europe, Trotsky had been deported earlier in the year from Spain to the neutral United States, which viewed him as just another unknown Eastern European immigrant. He was in the U.S. just over two months when the Kerensky government declared an amnesty for political prisoners. Trotsky immediately joined a flood of exiles returning to his homeland, where, by the end of the year, he was Commissar of Foreign Affairs in the revolutionary communist government. During his brief American sojourn, the irrepressible Trotsky jumped with both feet into local politics, where his fiery speeches and articles provoked a split in the American Socialist Party as it considered its response to the onrushing war. Attorney and amateur historian Ackerman (Young J. Edgar: Hoover and the Red Scare, 1919-1920, 2007, etc.) creates a lively portrait of this tireless agitator adjusting his personal life and his politics to a strange country a few months before the Bolsheviks seized power at home. In boisterous prose well-matched to his topic, the author also convincingly evokes the social ferment of New York's huge immigrant community: polyglot, united in hatred of the czarist government, and receptive to socialism but arguing endlessly and urgently about political theory and strategy. Ackerman succeeds in presenting Trotsky's little-known weeks in New York as an absorbing adventure, though much greater adventures lay ahead.

An entertaining and informative account of a footnote to the life of one of the 20th century’s most charismatic leaders.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61902-607-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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