Historians won’t find much here, but general readers with an interest in Queen Vickie will enjoy De-la-Noy’s account,...

QUEEN VICTORIA AT HOME

A portrait of the ruler as a young pool shark.

Or at least a billiards enthusiast. “It has often been assumed,” writes English royal-watcher De-la-Noy, “that in Victorian and Edwardian England billiards was a game played exclusively by men, usually after dinner, when they could smoke as well, but Victoria learned to play billiards at Osborne, and she roped in some of her ladies to play with her after lunch.” There lies the essence of Victoria, the diminutive German who ruled over England for so much of the 19th century: she did the unexpected, and at unexpected times, pretty much as she pleased. This is a curiosity, inasmuch as it focuses not on Victoria’s decided contributions to the making and administering of the British empire and other matters of governance, but instead on her management of her own household, affairs, and time—an overlooked topic in general, and probably for good reason. Her training in such things came early, through what turns out to have been a rather unhappy childhood; as a teenager, she lived according to what was called the “Kensington system,” by which she was made to account for every second of the day and was allowed only meager meals of “bread and milk served in a silver bowl.” Small wonder, writes De-la-Noy, that Victoria “developed a greedy appetite as an adult.” Indeed, some of the best moments here recount vast meals the queen and her courtiers enjoyed, with groaning boards of “fowl with white sauce, good roast lamb, very good potatoes, besides one or two other dishes . . . ending with a good tarte of cranberries.” Though they left her rotund, it’s clear from De-la-Noy’s account that Victoria worked hard for those sumptuous meals, for she took an active and informed interest not only in the running of the empire but also in every minute detail of the household around her, and she seems never to have enjoyed a minute’s rest throughout her long reign.

Historians won’t find much here, but general readers with an interest in Queen Vickie will enjoy De-la-Noy’s account, however incidental.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7867-1178-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more