A slow-smoldering, steadily argued work of historical significance.

THE SISTERS WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

MARY, KATHERINE, AND LADY JANE GREY: A TUDOR TRAGEDY

The Grey sisters receive a compelling treatment from De Lisle (After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England, 2006).

In this sympathetic biography of the three grand-nieces of Henry VIII who had a real shot at reigning in England, the author stresses the theme that women were deeply scorned and feared as rulers. However, during the generation after Henry died, de Lisle notes, “the entire political system, the stability of England” would be borne out by the actions of females, “beings to be used and manipulated.” In 1544, Henry had established his line of succession, which moved from his young son Edward down to his two “illegitimate” daughters Mary and Elizabeth, to the descendants of his youngest sister, Frances Brandon (the Grey branch). Lady Jane Grey, the eldest sister and most promising in terms of intellectual accomplishment and resolve, was apparently an even better pupil than her cousin Elizabeth. But she was prey to all manner of schemes by relatives and guardians to marry her off, and de Lisle suggests that her true hope was to marry King Edward. However, because Edward had named the Grey branch as his rightful successors, Jane was finagled into marrying Lord Guildford Dudley to produce a quick son and heir. With Edward’s death, Lady Jane ruled for a fortnight, before the people of England rose up to demand that Mary Tudor be rightfully installed. Jane’s two sisters, warily watched and imprisoned under Elizabeth, would escape the chopping block but endure bleak fates of their own. De Lisle is to be commended for skillfully drawing out the stories of these undervalued personages, especially the one who stood in line to inherit the throne before the Grey sisters—their poor overlooked mother, Frances.

A slow-smoldering, steadily argued work of historical significance.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-345-49135-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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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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