As entertaining and shocking as one would hope for, but the book leaves readers with more questions than answers.

BEING BERLUSCONI

THE RISE AND FALL FROM COSA NOSTRA TO BUNGA BUNGA

In the first comprehensive examination of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s life and career, Independent Italy correspondent Day paints a lively but noncomplex picture of an ambitious and deeply flawed man in a system that accommodated his numerous vices.

Berlusconi’s rise is a fascinating story that reads straight from a tabloid, littered with corrupt politicians, shady dealings, and women who emerge more as caricatures than real people. The author ably brings to light the various avenues by which Berlusconi first made his fortune and later made Italy his playground through self-serving legislation. With such rich fodder and his experience for nearly a decade as a journalist in Italy, it’s not surprising he is able to do so. However, Day vacillates between treating Berlusconi’s antics as a political sideshow and exposing them as a true threat to Italy’s political system. When the author does turn to his subject’s legacy, highlighting the extensive damage he did to the country’s culture and reputation, it reads more like an afterthought than a legitimate meditation. Day gives great attention to the sex scandals that made Berlusconi an international joke, but he focuses less on exploring the system within which Berlusconi existed. Leaps between his roles as an entrepreneur and a politician and between investigations and public scandals feel jarring, as the author gives too little context. In other instances, however, Day provides too much detail—e.g., the minibiography of one of the young girls whose relationship with Berlusconi eventually brought about the political titan’s downfall. Although the author explains the many whats of Berlusconi’s long career, he largely neglects the more intricate questions of how. In so doing, he makes Italy seem more like a bit player than the stage in Berlusconi’s circus.

As entertaining and shocking as one would hope for, but the book leaves readers with more questions than answers.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-28004-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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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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