A surprisingly absorbing legal procedural.

LAST MISSION TO TOKYO

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE DOOLITTLE RAIDERS AND THEIR FINAL FIGHT FOR JUSTICE

The Doolittle raid over Tokyo four months after Pearl Harbor has received plenty of attention, but this captivating account of the lesser-known aftermath deserves attention.

A lawyer specializing in war crimes law, Paradis ably summarizes the mission in which B-25 bombers inflicted little physical but much psychological damage to the Japanese. Of the 80 American airmen who participated, two died in crashes and eight were captured. The Japanese executed three for “bombing and strafing school areas”; five were pardoned by a “merciful” emperor but sentenced to life imprisonment with “special treatment.” The result was more than four years of brutality. One airman died of malnutrition before liberation, and one was close to death and never entirely recovered. Once the news got out, Americans demanded vengeance, the survivors most of all. Most of the book describes efforts of a team of American lawyers to track down those responsible, gather evidence, and try them for their crimes. Had the U.S. followed Japan’s lead, officials would have swept up everyone involved, performed a cursory show trial, and extracted our revenge. It is to America’s credit that it stuck to democratic ideals. The lawyers worked hard to assemble convincing evidence on each individual involved and then persuade relatively impartial judges who were also listening to an aggressive defense. Although a legal scholar, Paradis writes engagingly, delivering clear explanations of the legal issues, the onerous preparations, and the trial itself. Four defendants, all Japanese army officers, faced five American judges who were Army officers and not lawyers. The lawyers for the accused, who were not chosen for their experience, worked hard for their clients. The relatively mild verdicts that resulted—three received “five years at hard labor,” and the other received eight—incensed their superiors. However, the author, who demonstrates a clear grasp of the legal matters at play, feels that the defense presented a reasonable case.

A surprisingly absorbing legal procedural.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0471-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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