If not quite as funny as billed, there remains much gentle humor and a certain elegiac sweetness that more than...

TO THE NEW OWNERS

A MEMOIR OF MARTHA'S VINEYARD

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author gives a familial face to the mystique of Martha's Vineyard in this unfailingly charming reminiscence of summers spent on the island.

Blais (Journalism/Univ. of Massachusetts-Amherst; Uphill Walkers: A Memoir of a Family, 2001, etc.) chronicles the final days and robust history of a prominent family's time at their vacation home. The author makes clear she was not born into wealth, nor did she feel that marriage to John Katzenbach, son of former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, afforded her any special entitlements, on the Vineyard or anywhere else. Much more than an account of the privileged class enjoying its privileges, this story of the “shack” at Thumb Point is an engaging tale of a place that, for family or visiting friends, meant a leisurely but active lifestyle raised to an art form. “After a few days by the pond,” she writes, “you became a happy animal, scampering barefoot, feral, and fortified.” A great strength of the book are the author’s portraits of her mother-in-law, the formidable Lydia, writer Phil Caputo, and publisher Katharine Graham, the latter sketch sounding a dirge on the decline of newspapers. Other principal players, including her husband, father-in-law, and year-round islanders, provide additional anecdotes. Readers will forgive the name-dropping because it is largely unavoidable; it serves as a gateway to a more complete picture of Vineyard culture, how seemingly fancy folk enjoy relatively modest lives in decidedly rustic surroundings. The book has the flavor of a finely observed travel book, with Blais offering a brief history of the island and a thorough inventory of its hierarchy, traditions, and manifest (sometimes eccentric) pleasures. In her hands, it is an endearingly quaint community, though not without a tinge of snob appeal, which she gamely dissects.

If not quite as funny as billed, there remains much gentle humor and a certain elegiac sweetness that more than compensates—that, and a touching coda.

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2657-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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