“Horse Is Doomed,” read one headline in 1895. This highly readable popular history tells why.

DRIVE!

HENRY FORD, GEORGE SELDEN, AND THE RACE TO INVENT THE AUTO AGE

The creation of the American automobile.

Goldstone (Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies, 2014, etc.) offers a wonderful, story-filled saga of the early days of the auto age. Against the background of late-17th-century attempts to use controlled explosions as a power source and the eventual rise of German and French carmakers, the author traces the development of American car manufacturing through the lives and work of a colorful cast of entrepreneurs and innovators, most notably Henry Ford (1863-1947), a farmer’s son whose Model T would make him America’s richest man, and George Selden (1846-1922), a judge’s son whose patent for an automobile he never built spawned an industry. Ford dominates the narrative: at once charismatic and enigmatic, he was a marketing genius—the Steve Jobs of his time—who, contrary to legend, did not invent the automobile or mass production but made his fortune by selling the inventions of others. He converted “ideas to cash,” which, writes Goldstone, is the definition of innovation. In the process, Ford betrayed associates, borrowed ideas, and notoriously took credit for the work of others. He would clash in courtroom encounters with the visionary Selden, the first American to apply the nascent technology of internal combustion to powering a “road carriage.” Lacking funds to build such a vehicle, Selden patented his idea and subsequently collected licensing fees from makers of motorcars. While aspects of Goldstone’s book will be familiar to auto buffs, the story is so compelling and well-crafted that most readers will be swept up in his vivid re-creation of a bygone era. The book abounds with detailed accounts of races, auto shows, and heroic cross-country journeys and explains in plain English the advances in automotive engineering that transformed early vehicles from playthings of the wealthy to functional, low-cost cars for the masses.

“Horse Is Doomed,” read one headline in 1895. This highly readable popular history tells why.

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0553394184

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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