A fine essay by Susan Spanier and a cleareyed post-mortem on Hemingway written by John Steinbeck in 1961 are highlights of a...

ERNEST HEMINGWAY

ARTIFACTS FROM A LIFE

A worshipful homage to Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961).

Only the most ardent apostles of Hemingway, his era, and his oeuvre will find total satisfaction in this book. Katakis (A Thousand Shards of Glass: There Is Another America, 2014, etc.), steward of Hemingway's literary estate, and his guest essayists make much of the journalistic immediacy and chronologies of Hemingway's letters, just one element of Hemingway memorabilia housed at the John F. Kennedy Library. Unfortunately, the early examples are banal, and many of the later letters are uninspiring. Some readers may feel voyeuristic reading painfully personal letters from Hemingway to his family, various wives, and romantic infatuations and peevish or apologetic missives to fellow writers. One would think that correspondence between Hemingway and the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, and Maxwell Perkins might bristle with vitality, but these letters are largely unremarkable, and they are assembled in an oddly disjointed, out-of-sequence manner. The same is true of many of the photos, with the young Hemingway depicted on the same page as the man years older. While often evocative and revealing, the photos as a whole seem to have been selected with insufficient regard for illustrative value, like a family album or slapdash celebrity picture book. Katakis dismisses the “myth of Hemingway, some of which he created himself,” as “too simplistic,” yet he succumbs to it at points throughout the text. The narrative contains little sense of continuity apart from the editor's attempt at connective tissue: setting the important years of Hemingway's life in the context of other political and literary milestones. Otherwise, until coalescing in the final third, the book caroms about in time and place.

A fine essay by Susan Spanier and a cleareyed post-mortem on Hemingway written by John Steinbeck in 1961 are highlights of a book that should have managed more resonance.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4208-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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