Powerful study of a life in Hitler's service, by Bloch (The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor, 1989, etc.). Bloch's young Ribbentrop is a shallow, friendly man of the middle class, characterized in early manhood by a love of sports and music, excellent manners, and snobbery (he added a phony ``von'' to his name). Son of a career officer, his education was slighted, but he traveled (as far as Canada) and made friends outside Germany, and his liquor-importing business strengthened these connections. Bloch makes clear that, into the early 30's, Ribbentrop was liberal in outlook, with Jewish friends, and that his international experience and personal finesse, rare in Nazi circles, were prized beyond their worth by Hitler, who assumed they indicated real sophistication. Ribbentrop acquired recognition by assisting in the maneuvers that made Hitler chancellor, and, in 1938, he was appointed Germany's foreign minister. He had diplomatic aspirations but neither gifts nor training and, as Bloch indicates, career diplomats of all nationalities abhorred him. Familiarity with the period and its major figures allows Bloch to present a detailed example of how Nazi Germany operated: Using Ribbentrop the social-climber, Hitler undermined and spied on the distrusted diplomatic service. Ongoing rivalries with Goebbels, Goering, and other Nazis represented here reveal a world in which everyone was set against everyone else by the master, and in which everything depended on his whim. Ribbentrop, acclimated to domination by his wife, was good at the game, debasing himself to the point where he was completely dependent on Hitler's approval for his state of mind. By the time Germany occupied Norway, Ribbentrop had become a raging anti-Semite—a changed man whose harangues in delicate diplomatic situations rivalled those of Hitler himself. Bloch controls his material expertly, balancing personal and historic elements to produce a fascinating, cautionary tale. (Sixteen-page b&w photo insert—not seen)

Pub Date: June 9, 1993

ISBN: 0-517-59310-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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