A powerful story that contrasts soaring hopes with the anchors of ego and courtroom.

BIRDMEN

THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, GLENN CURTISS, AND THE BATTLE TO CONTROL THE SKIES

At the dawn of powered flight, the warfare for the air was as intense, if not as sanguinary, as war in the air would one day become.

Goldstone—author or co-author of more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction titles (Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1965–1903, 2010, etc.)—returns with a story little known to those unversed in aviation history: the battle Orville and Wilbur Wright fought with Glenn Curtiss to dominate the aviation market in the early years of the 20th century. Both would win and lose. After a brief prologue, Goldstone returns to the early theories and attempts at manned flight—Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo have cameos. The author then leaps to the late 19th century, then swiftly to Kitty Hawk, where the Wright brothers would achieve their immortality in 1903. He takes us through their design innovations and their false starts and hopes, and despite his patent admiration for the brothers, Goldstone also describes a surprising intransigence and even truculence in them. He then shifts focus to Curtiss (and ping-pongs back and forth between his two subjects the rest of the way), who was a brilliant designer, as well. The author describes the controversy between his two principals: Early in their relationship, a relationship that moved from amicable to hostile, did Curtiss steal ideas? The author then glides above history, directing our attention to the phenomenon of the air show, aerial competitions, the innovations in design, the crashes, the deaths and the slow emergence of women aviators. He also describes the grotesque determination of spectators to retrieve pieces of wreckage, even moments after a fatal crash. The Wright brothers became embroiled in countless lawsuits with Curtiss and others as history inevitably flew away from them.

A powerful story that contrasts soaring hopes with the anchors of ego and courtroom.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53803-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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