A smooth, dramatic, and well-fleshed world history perfect for library collections.

IN SEARCH OF A KINGDOM

FRANCIS DRAKE, ELIZABETH I, AND THE PERILOUS BIRTH OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE

The swashbuckling life and times of the explorer who achieved what Magellan could not—and made England’s fortune in the process.

In his latest wide-ranging work, Bergreen, who has written biographies of Columbus, Marco Polo, Magellan, Casanova, and others, trains his well-honed historical eye on Francis Drake (circa 1540-1596). A Protestant preacher’s son who cut his teeth on slaver ships (under his cousin John Hawkins) and decided that accumulating booty from the Spanish was his preferred trade, Drake took off from Plymouth in 1577 with a small fleet and the tacit approval of Queen Elizabeth I to drive the Spanish from mineral-rich regions of South America and beyond. Demonstrating his deep knowledge of the era, the author energetically recounts Drake’s action-packed journey, which included a near mutiny and the execution of the ringleader. In 1580, Drake returned along with a handful of survivors, having successfully circumnavigated the globe, a feat that Magellan, murdered in the Philippines, was unable to accomplish. Drake also delivered a staggering amount of gold and jewels, which, Bergreen shows, essentially saved the queen from an ill-suited marriage to a French duke, bolstered the state’s woeful finances, and allowed her to build up the English navy in preparation for the eventual invasion by the Spanish Armada in 1588. Drake’s success allowed England to challenge the seemingly invincible Spanish empire for the first time—and begin to establish its own. “For Elizabeth,” writes the author, “the expedition was a challenge to the global order, which ranked Spain dominant and England a second-rate island kingdom.” The narrative is long but never boring, as Bergreen masterly portrays the principal characters in this drama: the relentless, arrogant Drake; the cautious, cunning Elizabeth; and the mortified Spanish king, Philip II, and his spy in London, Bernardino de Mendoza, who informed his liege of Drake’s every outrageous move.

A smooth, dramatic, and well-fleshed world history perfect for library collections.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287535-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more