A master craftsman’s rendering of a character who needs no embellishment.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Auchincloss (Her Infinite Variety, 2000, etc.) trains his acute sensibility and elegant prose on our most colorful chief executive, rendering Teddy as a man of his time as well as a timeless example of principled leadership.

Auchincloss argues that Roosevelt’s bluster was his most human trait. The first president of the 20th century was given to loud talk and exaggeration. So what? asks the author. It masked his political shrewdness. To understand Roosevelt, one need only understand the policeman’s ethic, writes Auchincloss. Before all else, Teddy did what was right. And he enjoyed coming down hard on those who did wrong. His concept of the gentleman was tantamount to a chivalric code, right up to a man’s duty to fight for his country. Roosevelt insisted on expanding the American Navy, using its battleships on the international stage, and gladly sent his sons into WWI and WWII. He insisted on boxing with younger and stronger army officers, one of whom blinded him permanently in the left eye. Like a cop, Roosevelt was often bull-headed in his pursuit of what he thought was the right course of action. This stubbornness caused him trouble at the outset of WWI. First, Roosevelt gave the White House to the Democrats by opposing business-friendly Taft and splitting the Republicans. Then the ex-president had to put up with university professor Woodrow Wilson leading America into war. After Wilson ignored his predecessor’s request to lead a cavalry regiment against Germany—a foolish desire, given that Roosevelt had only a few more years to live—Teddy spent much of the rest of his life fulminating against the administration, one arguably more progressive than his. Auchincloss quotes extensively from Roosevelt’s writings, which are as awe-inspiring and dramatic as any novelist’s. It’s a wonderful way of bringing this giant to life on the page.

A master craftsman’s rendering of a character who needs no embellishment.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6906-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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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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