An unabashedly ideological political history by a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. You would think that only people living under rocks for the last 20 years would be surprised to learn of conservative strength in recent American politics and that this success obviates the need for paranoia about liberal influence, but Edwards (Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution, 1995, etc.) disagrees. In his view, liberal biases have prevented recognition of the triumph of conservatism, and he is out to set the record straight. His presentation is colored throughout by the assumption that politics is a battle of good (conservatives) vs. evil (liberals), with predictable results. Consider negative political campaigns, for example. Lyndon Johnson’s ads attacking Barry Goldwater are denounced with the comment that for Johnson “extremism in the pursuit of the presidency was no vice”; George Bush’s ads attacking Michael Dukakis are praised as “the most effective negative ads in presidential campaigning since the Democrats in 1964,” with the Willie Horton ads downplayed as the work of an independent PAC. The loose chronological organization features three conservative heroes, Robert Taft, Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan, and a host of lesser figures, ranging from Joseph McCarthy to Newt Gingrich. Throughout the discussion, the critical steps in building the coalition that eventually put Reagan in the White House are noted, with no hint that there might be tensions between, for example, Goldwater’s commitment to individual freedom and the moral agenda of social conservatives. The question that is addressed is whether or not conservative critics of government can govern effectively when in positions of leadership, and Edwards’s answer is, of course, yes. However, citing the strong record of conservative governors administering state governments leaves hanging the question of conservative leadership in Washington and constitutes a rather weak conclusion. Readers who share Edwards’s assumptions and dislike subtle analyses that might challenge them will find this book an enjoyable read and an essential history of recent American politics.

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-83500-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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