A lackluster memoir, of interest only to the most devoted Churchill aficionados.

A DAUGHTER'S TALE

THE MEMOIR OF WINSTON CHURCHILL'S YOUNGEST CHILD

Memoir of the youngest child of Winston Churchill, focused largely on the years encompassing World War II.

Countless books have been written about Churchill, and even this memoir is only the latest book that Soames (Clementine Churchill, 2002, etc.) has written or edited about her family’s history. As the baby of the family, born in 1922, she is Churchill’s only surviving child, and she delivers a rare eyewitness account of her father. However, readers looking for an emotionally engaging look at the Churchill family’s private lives will be disappointed. Soames clearly worshipped her father, but she appears not to have known him on a deep emotional level. Indeed, other than a few airy letters, the author shares relatively little direct communication between them. She draws heavily on journals and letters she wrote during her young womanhood, in which she apparently had a habit of recounting the menus of lunches and dinners in great detail. Though famous figures make appearances, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, T.E. Lawrence and Charlie Chaplin, Soames rarely judges anyone as less than utterly charming, nor does she provide particularly useful information about historical events. The memoir becomes marginally more interesting in later chapters, as when Soames recounts her stint serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the war, and especially when she briefly tells of her visit to the liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. However, Soames rarely delves much below the surface of things, keeping events (and emotions) strictly at arm’s length—which often makes for dreary reading.

A lackluster memoir, of interest only to the most devoted Churchill aficionados.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9333-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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