A harrowing and horrifying tale told in spare and poignant prose—sometimes bitter, sometimes ironic, always powerful.

JOURNEY TO A REVOLUTION

A PERSONAL MEMOIR AND HISTORY OF THE HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION OF 1956

A veteran writer and editor recalls his youthful, quixotic car trip to Budapest to deliver medical relief supplies during the brief Hungarian uprising against the Soviets in the fall of 1956.

A novelist, historian and memoirist who has written gracefully about a range of subjects (Ulysses S. Grant, 2004; Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer, 1996; etc.), Korda turns his focus on the events of October and November 1956, when, in his view, the first cracks appeared in the Iron Curtain. Korda takes an unusual approach here: Some of his story is simply a swift summary of the Hungarian Revolution (admittedly adapted from more comprehensive histories); and some of it is his memoir of a sort of loopy, larkish car trip he and some similarly idealistic and foolish friends from England took into Hungary at the very moment tens of thousands of Soviet tanks were rolling into the country to squash the tiny (and unlikely) flower of freedom that was beginning to bloom amid Communist oppression. Korda makes a couple of key points. First, the brutality of the Soviet response cured many European and American leftists of their Communist sympathies. Second, the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, which was occurring at the same time, snuffed out the small flame of Hungarian hope that the United States would intervene in their country to oppose the Soviets. The author’s understandable anti-USSR attitude is evident throughout, even in his descriptions of Soviet diplomats with their bullet heads, gold teeth and shapeless, colorless suits. The most gripping parts of his story are, unsurprisingly, the personal ones. He sees corpses in the street, hears artillery shells land nearby, watches buildings implode, faces unsmiling Soviet tank officers who point their weapons at him. Chastened and frightened, he and his friends eventually depart the country in a British convoy.

A harrowing and horrifying tale told in spare and poignant prose—sometimes bitter, sometimes ironic, always powerful.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-077261-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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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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