GOOD TED, BAD TED

THE TWO FACES OF EDWARD M. KENNEDY

Tabloid-style gossip about the senior senator from Massachusetts. David (coauthor, Bobby Kennedy, 1986, etc.) has been a Kennedy watcher for 30 years, but his breathless tone here suggests that he's only just discovered that controversial family. While the Kennedys are known for embodying achievement, charm, herculean power, and greed, very little of this is conveyed in David's one- sentence paragraphs as they dart from crisis to quarrel to bottle to bed. David jumps immediately into his subject's head (`` `What the hell is that guy jabbering about?' Ted Kennedy wondered as he listened to the announcer's frenetic shouting, mingled with snatches of prayer, on the car radio''). After some disjointed scene-setting, we learn that Robert Kennedy has just been shot, making Ted the Kennedy heir apparent. This sort of swirling melodrama goes on throughout, leveling events so that details like the African mahogany selected for RFK's coffin bulks as large as the slain senator's evolution from Redbaiter to fierce liberal. Minutiae abounds—which hotel, what island, which celebrity, what boat—although there are excursions into deeper history, such as the first arrival on American soil of a Kennedy, ``a brawny lad named Patrick, who stepped off a packet boat in 1849 with a suitcase tied with a rope and about a hundred dollars in his pocket.'' Given the value of a hundred dollars at that time, one wonders why Patrick so rigidly rationed his food as to be ``close to starvation''—but rather than explain, David instead gives us what everyone knows—from excessive drinking to Chappaquiddick. We also learn a lot about Jackie O. and Onassis, but nothing new about the senator and how he has earned the respect of fellow legislators of both political parties. Good subject, bad treatment.

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 1-55972-167-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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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