A well-researched and engaging biography and a fine addition to Marshall scholarship.

YOUNG THURGOOD

THE MAKING OF A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE

In his debut, Gibson (Univ. of Maryland School of Law) looks at the early years of the legendary Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993).

Marshall, a brilliant legal mind, became the first black Supreme Court justice in 1967, and before that, he was the chief counsel for the plaintiffs in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, in which school segregation was declared unconstitutional. But while Marshall’s law career has been amply covered by other biographers, his earlier life has gotten relatively short shrift. This biography, by contrast, focuses solely on the first 30 years of Marshall’s life. Growing up, Marshall intensely discussed politics and race relations with his father. “He never told me to be a lawyer, but he turned me into one,” Marshall later said. Indeed, Gibson writes that Marshall inherited his family members’ assertive and deeply hardworking natures. Marshall experienced segregation firsthand, attending an all-black high school; he refined his brilliant debating style on the debate team there and, later, at historically black Lincoln University. Gibson also covers Marshall’s time at Howard University Law School and his first cases as a Baltimore lawyer, which led to his work with the NAACP and civil rights law. The author, who met Marshall a few times in the 1970s and ’80s, writes in his introduction of how he wished to correct the record regarding some details of Marshall’s early life—noting, for example, that while some sources have claimed that Marshall was a mediocre student before law school, Gibson’s research found that Marshall had in fact graduated high school with honors at the age of 16. But this biography also deftly evokes the atmosphere in which Marshall developed his talents and effectively sketches the many people and events that influenced him.

A well-researched and engaging biography and a fine addition to Marshall scholarship.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61614-571-2

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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