A well-crafted combination of technology history, tortuous military politics, and the biography of a shamefully neglected...

GOING DEEP

JOHN PHILIP HOLLAND AND THE INVENTION OF THE ATTACK SUBMARINE

A history of the attack submarine and its inventor, who “would never know that he had helped create one of the defining killing machines of two world wars.”

Historians pay great attention to humankind’s yearning to fly. The desire to travel underwater turns out to be equally fascinating, with many difficult technical barriers and a fiercely single-minded inventor, John Philip Holland (1841-1914), who is now mostly forgotten. The story is well-told by historian and journalist Goldstone (Drive: Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age, 2016). Holland arrived from Ireland in 1873, already fascinated by submarines. Faced with an indifferent U.S. Navy, he struggled for more than two decades to obtain financing. No sooner had he succeeded when Navy “experts” demanded changes that converted his plans to a lugubrious Rube Goldberg–esque contraption. Holland essentially abandoned it and built the submarine he had designed. Tested in 1898, it thrilled observers, including Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, who urged superiors to buy the machine. They refused. His money exhausted, Holland had no choice but to accept the offer of a rescuer, Isaac Rice, wealthy owner of many businesses, including some that supplied Holland. In exchange for financial aid, Holland turned over his patents and control of the company. Rice had no interest in sharing power, and Holland resigned after several frustrating years. Litigation prevented him from starting a rival company, and his death after 10 years of retirement went unnoticed. Rice’s capital and connections worked their magic on the Navy, which bought its first submarine, the USS Holland, in 1900 but remained lukewarm about buying more. Rice eventually struck it rich but not until World War I broke out.

A well-crafted combination of technology history, tortuous military politics, and the biography of a shamefully neglected American inventor.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-429-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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