Impossible for admirers of the current president to dismiss, the Cannons’ detailed reporting, fluid style and mature...

REAGAN’S DISCIPLE

GEORGE W. BUSH’S QUEST FOR A PRESIDENTIAL LEGACY

Leading Reagan biographer Cannon (Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power, 2003, etc.) teams with son Carl (The Pursuit of Happiness in Times of War, 2003, etc.) to measure George W. Bush against the Gipper’s formidable shadow.

During the course of his successful political career, Ronald Reagan renovated the Republican Party, a transformation neatly replicated in miniature within the Bush family. Any Republican seriously aspiring to the Oval Office since 1988 has welcomed and sought comparisons to Reagan, no one more aggressively than the current occupant. As Bush’s beleaguered presidency winds down, the Cannons deem him a worthy heir to Reagan on matters of tax and economic policies, judicial appointments and immigration issues. Otherwise, Bush shrivels in comparison to the Great Communicator. Where Reagan was flexible but aggressive, ruthless when necessary, attuned to public opinion and optimistic, Bush is stubborn, excessively loyal, passive and oddly indifferent to public opinion. Mindful of Reagan’s failures in office, the authors, nevertheless, find none as egregious as the Iraq War, a conflict they conclude Reagan would have avoided, and one which will likely doom Bush’s legacy. The Cannons detail how it all went wrong for Bush and how he strayed from the Reagan blueprint. Their narrative is distinguishable in three important ways from the innumerable Bush-bashing tomes that populate the bookshelves. First, the authors forthrightly confess that today’s world moves rapidly and that events might still overtake the analysis they offer. Second, they avoid the hysterical, foaming-at-the-mouth tone that assessments of Bush often inspire. Third, they acknowledge the rich irony of using Reagan to hammer Bush, a favorite pastime of folks who had little use for the Californian while he was governing.

Impossible for admirers of the current president to dismiss, the Cannons’ detailed reporting, fluid style and mature judgment will particularly delight Bush’s many critics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58648-448-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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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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