Kitchen ably portrays a hollow, cold, bourgeois man totally lacking in morals or scruples—exactly the type that made...

SPEER

HITLER'S ARCHITECT

Kitchen (Emeritus, History/Simon Fraser Univ.; The Third Reich: Charisma and Community, 2014, etc.) sets the record straight on Albert Speer’s assertions of ignorance of the Final Solution and claims to being the “good Nazi.”

Speer came to the attention of Hitler in his capacity as an architect. If Hitler ever had any friends, Speer would have been his closest. At the end of this impressively researched book, the author hints at perhaps a closer relationship than friendship, not supported by fact but a good explanation for Speer’s ability to manipulate Hitler. Speer gained power in the Nazi machine by dealing directly with Hitler, bypassing the usual procedures. His peevish whining invariably accomplished his goal, and since Hitler believed his skewed and doctored statistics, he quickly climbed to the top. As minister of armaments, he did increase output, but his base line was a period when Germany thought the war would be short and production had been cut. Colleagues in the Nazi hierarchy detested his self-determination policy and profitable arrangement with industry. The biggest question about Speer has been his knowledge of the use of concentration camp inmates in industry and wartime production. Kitchen shows incontrovertibly that Speer not only knew of the practice, but was the greatest user of prisoners, many of whom were worked to death. Occasionally, the book gets bogged down in statistics and details of production, both real and invented, and the coverage of Speer’s trial is tedious. After his 20-year prison term, Speer completely rebuilt his image, carefully subverting the damning wartime chronicle kept by his longtime friend. As at Nuremburg, he admitted overall responsibility, but Kitchen puts it perfectly: “his guilt—like a figure in a Greek tragedy—was guiltless.”

Kitchen ably portrays a hollow, cold, bourgeois man totally lacking in morals or scruples—exactly the type that made National Socialism possible and could do so again.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-300-19044-1

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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