Readers who tolerate Berman’s frequent pauses to quote praise from letters, speeches and articles, as well as tributes...

ZUMWALT

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ADMIRAL ELMO RUSSELL "BUD" ZUMWALT, JR.

Admiring biography of Elmo Russell Zumwalt (1920–2000), who transformed the U.S. Navy and went on to an equally commendable career after retirement.

Berman (History Emeritus/Univ. of California, Davis; Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, 2007, etc.) emphasizes how quickly Zumwalt impressed commanders after graduating from Annapolis in 1942 and taking part in naval engagements against Japan. Rising to admiral during the Vietnam War, he commanded the “brown water” navy that patrolled rivers and coasts and suffered heavy casualties from snipers. He approved spraying Agent Orange to defoliate the heavily forested banks, which dramatically reduced casualties but came back to haunt him when its toxicity became known and his son, who served under him, died of cancer from exposure to the chemical. In 1970, President Nixon appointed him Chief of Naval Operations, and he energized the transition away from World War II technology and hidebound personnel policies. The Navy had been integrated for 20 years, but blacks and Filipinos were deliberately given dead-end assignments. Zumwalt changed that, and he allowed beards and longer hair among enlisted men and began permitting women to serve aboard ships. Dealing with major issues, he clashed with leaders such as Adm. Hyman Rickover, who demanded nuclear power in all new ships, and Henry Kissinger over Zumwalt’s opposition to détente. He remained active after retiring in 1974 but—rare among former military men—not in right-wing politics. He led the fight for victims of Agent Orange and served many humanitarian causes.

Readers who tolerate Berman’s frequent pauses to quote praise from letters, speeches and articles, as well as tributes during award, change-of-command, retirement and funeral ceremonies, will agree that he makes a good case that Zumwalt was an outstanding naval leader.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-169130-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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