Written in academic prose, this book, which shows Jefferson to be a man of his times, brilliant yet flawed, will appeal...

THOMAS JEFFERSON—REVOLUTIONARY

A RADICAL'S STRUGGLE TO REMAKE AMERICA

Just how revolutionary and radical was Thomas Jefferson?

Veritas Radio Network's Constitution Hour host Gutzman (History/Western Connecticut State Univ.; James Madison and the Making of America, 2012, etc.) begins his provocative book with a rather bold statement: “Jefferson’s influence on American political history outstrips that of any other figure.” He admits Franklin Roosevelt rivaled Jefferson, but Washington and Lincoln? Gutzman lays out his case in five footnote-laden chapters that sometimes drag. Federalism receives most of the author’s attention, taking up a third of the book. He admires Jefferson’s long-standing defense of states’ rights as they relate to their relationship with the central government. He features lots of back and forth arguing with Jefferson scholars over matters of interpretation, and he feels they’ve especially “distorted history” in arguing that federalism was really not that “important” to Jefferson. Jefferson “considered liberty of conscience to be the basis of all other freedom.” While establishing the University of Virginia—another subject Gutzman examines in detail—Jefferson was adamant that it should be secular and that all students should be able to explore their religious inquiries without restrictions—except blacks, who were not allowed to attend. Gutzman admits Jefferson “erred” in his views on race; Jefferson thought blacks “inferior,” even disliked them and, although unjust, refused to condemn slavery. He advocated colonization; they could be “created equal” as long as they lived somewhere else. He was all for shipping them overseas, perhaps Liberia. He was adverse to “racial mixture” but, sadly, not adverse to having children with Sally Hemings, one of his female slaves. As for Native Americans, Jefferson believed they were violent, the equals of whites, and needed educating. His policies encouraging taking their land for agricultural use—Gutzman notes that Lewis and Clark helped with that—set the stage for Andrew Jackson's removal policy.

Written in academic prose, this book, which shows Jefferson to be a man of his times, brilliant yet flawed, will appeal primarily to scholars.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-01080-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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