If you thought the right wing was in a lather over Bill Ayres, wait until its talking heads get hold of this unapologetic...

UNDERGROUND

MY LIFE WITH SDS AND THE WEATHERMEN

Provocative memoir by the antiwar activist best known for his role in the Columbia University occupation of 1968.

Rudd was a nice boy from New Jersey when he came to Columbia, but the war in Vietnam was raging and racial tensions were wound extremely tight. His trajectory was quick: He became an activist in and then leader of Students for a Democratic Society, whose sit-in strike and occupation of several university buildings were front-page news around the world—and proved to be ineluctably divisive. “Things were happening so fast by that point that I only dimly understood we had passed the point of no return,” Rudd writes of the occupation. That describes subsequent events too, including the increasing radicalization of SDS and its splintering to form, among other groups, the Weather Underground, committed to violent revolution. Once in, the Weathermen found, it was hard to get out; Rudd was reminded that “anyone who pulled out of the action would have to be ‘offed’ for the sake of security.” Around the time that a few unlucky Weathermen blew up themselves and a Greenwich Village townhouse while making bombs, Rudd went underground, fleeing various criminal charges, living as close to an anonymous life as possible, working factory and construction jobs, trying to keep a low profile and always fearing that he would be discovered. The author, who finally surrendered to authorities only to find most of the charges against him had gone cold or were dismissed by illegal government actions, made a life as a math teacher far from New York. Wistfully regretful about excesses and missteps, Rudd nonetheless insists, “I might have been wrong about a lot of things, but I’d been right in opposing the war and about the antiwar movement, which had played an important role in ending it.”

If you thought the right wing was in a lather over Bill Ayres, wait until its talking heads get hold of this unapologetic book, which deserves to be read and discussed.

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-147275-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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 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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