Dishy, as policy-wonkish memoirs go, and a pleasure for readers interested in the art of negotiation.

HELL AND OTHER DESTINATIONS

A 21ST-CENTURY MEMOIR

The former secretary of state reflects on the world that has emerged since she left office in 2001.

Following her previous memoir, Madam Secretary, and particularly the self-explanatory Fascism: A Warning (2018), Albright begins by confessing that the end of her tenure as secretary of state found her “a little overcooked.” She was worn out, frazzled, and out of shape from too little home cooking and not enough exercise. Yet, she allows, she didn’t want to retire, so, after ceding her post to Colin Powell, she examined her options: write a memoir, hit the lecture circuit, teach, establish “a small consulting firm, run primarily by women.” Never one to be pinned down to one thing, she did pretty much all of them. She founded that firm, which had a hard take on its mission: Do good, and “whatever the cost to our bottom line, we didn’t want our children to think of us as creeps.” Therefore, no lobbying for big tobacco or the gun lobby, and by her account, Albright and colleagues steered big pharma into a few beneficial measures. The lecture circuit was a touch less satisfying, as was “the endurance test known as a book tour.” But postgame diplomatic analysis turns out to be her thing, always from the perspective of one who understands that diplomacy is the art of persuading “each side to settle for part of what it wants rather than prolong a squabble by demanding all.” Naturally, she despairs at the Trumpian approach, to say nothing of the man himself (“It was one thing to crave change; quite another to choose Donald Trump to define it”). And is he a fascist? Maybe not by dictionary definition, though not for want of trying—and in any event, Albright concludes, “he has the most antidemocratic instincts of any president in modern American history.”

Dishy, as policy-wonkish memoirs go, and a pleasure for readers interested in the art of negotiation.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-280225-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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