for a fool. (40 b&w photos, not seen)



A discursive, anecdotal life of the prolific creator of Sherlock Holmes by the equally prolific Booth (The Industry of Souls,

1999, etc.), who seeks here to put the bluff Sir Arthur on the same pedestal as the giants of English literature. Because the largest collection of Doyle’s papers has been kept from scholarly review by his heirs, every biographer who has knelt at the physician-turned-writer’s shrine has had to speculate on crucial details about Doyle’s relationship with his dissolute father, Charles, a failed illustrator who died in an asylum, and with the mysterious lodger Bryan Waller, who saved the struggling family from an Edinburgh poorhouse and might have fathered one of Doyle's sisters. Questions also persist about the sources of Doyle's inconsistent attitudes about science, spiritualism, racism, and women’s suffrage. Moreover, Doyle’s rags-to-riches adventures as a world traveler, photographer, physician, wartime correspondent, amateur detective, patriotic booster, and, finally, writer of some of world’s best and worst genre fiction are so varied that every biographer buckles under the wealth of detail. Booth too often raises important clues to Doyle’s character only to abandon them in his rush to squeeze everything in. Still, he manages to set some records straight (Doyle had literary aspirations long before he became a physician; Sherlock Holmes was based on more originals than Joseph Bell, Doyle’s favorite medical school teacher), reprint some legends (though he spent months on research, at his peak Doyle could finish a novel in less than a week), celebrate his hero’s triumphs (Doyle was knighted for his pro-British pamphleteering during the Boer War, not for his writing), mourn his embarrassments (an ardent believer in the supernatural, he was easily duped by cynical magicians and fraudulent mediums), and explain his enduring popularity. Doyle emerges as an honorable pillar of Victorian pride and prejudice, even when he wrote ineptly and let others play him

for a fool. (40 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-24251-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2000

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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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