Densely packed research in a well-organized package.



Based on several face-to-face interviews, The Nation Southern Africa correspondent Gevisser offers a critical, fully fleshed look at former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki grew up the son of teachers, shopkeepers and activists in Mbewuleni and was educated in England. His education in Sussex, and later at the Lenin Institute in Moscow, were sponsored by the African National Congress (ANC), under the aegis of elder Oliver Tambo. His father Govan’s political activism in the ANC had led to his arrest and imprisonment, along with Nelson Mandela, on Robben Island for more than 20 years. Mbeki and rival Chris Hani were the two youngest members of the ANC leadership working in exile at the headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia. Mbeki served as an envoy to other African countries, political secretary and propaganda chief, until the ANC leaders were allowed to return to South Africa in 1990. Mbeki’s urbane, “seductive” manner proved particularly effective in assuaging whites’ fears about black leadership and violence. Despite his ambivalence about sharing power, Mandela chose Mbeki as his deputy in 1994. Assuming the presidency in 1997, Mbeki ruled by a “workmanlike technocracy,” helping to solidify the black middle class and implement an empowering “African Renaissance.” Yet his woeful mismanagement of the AIDS crisis, advocacy of a disastrous arms deal, support for Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe and oppressive political control led to his fall from power in 2008. Gevisser skillfully examines Mbeki’s legacy within the context of a complicated, still uncertain South African history.

Densely packed research in a well-organized package.

Pub Date: April 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-230-61100-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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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 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...


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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