Indeed, there are plenty of books about Churchill, period. Shelden isn’t of the first rank, but the book holds up well...

YOUNG TITAN

THE MAKING OF WINSTON CHURCHILL

Solid biography covering the first four decades of Winston Churchill’s life, marked by both ambition and heartbreak.

The heartbreak comes early and late in Shelden’s (English/Indiana State Univ.; Mark Twain: Man in White, 2010, etc.) account—early with rejection by a young woman for whom Churchill had conceived an unreturned love, late with rejection by his political colleagues at the height of World War I. The ambition is constant: When Churchill, having escaped from a Boer jail in part, one suspects, to impress his intended, gets shoved under the tram of love, he dusts himself off, makes a tidy sum writing his memoir, and wins elective office and ever-growing fame; when he suffers rejection by the elected and the electorate, he changes gears and parties and earns still more influence. Shelden opens with a longish episode that finds Churchill in the United States and Canada on a generally unsatisfying lecture tour about his adventures in the Boer War. He closes with a disgraced Churchill briefly exiting the political stage to fight in the trenches of France: “Like a Byronic figure in a novel that he might have written about his own political adventures, he was suddenly confronted with the possibility that he had reached the last chapter, and must now fight or die.” In between, Shelden offers an unadorned account of Churchill’s dogged pursuit to build his legacy against some long odds (including marked antipathy, it seems, on the part of his elders, family and foe alike). The author might, in fact, have offered more analysis in the place of plain narration, but there are plenty of other books on Churchill that do that.

Indeed, there are plenty of books about Churchill, period. Shelden isn’t of the first rank, but the book holds up well against the competition.

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-0991-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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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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