A biography/memoir of the extraordinary Hutchins—educational reformer, administrative genius, Great Books mentor, academic freedom-fighter, and liberal polemicist—that was edited by Hicks (formerly, English/UMass at Amherst) from 900 pages of a working draft left by Mayer (If Men Were Angels, 1971, etc.) at his death in 1986. Following two years each at Oberlin College, in the Army, and at Yale, Hutchins was appointed at age 23 to the daunting position of Yale's administrative secretary. Though he graduated from the university's law school in 1925 and taught law for two years, he hadn't even taken the bar exam when he was named dean of Yale Law in 1927. And he topped that by becoming president of the University of Chicago at the age of 30. As Mayer repeatedly notes, Hutchins felt he was a failure at most things and, despite his reforms and innovations and his astonishing fund-raising ability, ``never did get the college he wanted.'' As the force behind the controversial ``Hutchins Plan,'' which would evolve over his 26 years at Chicago, he revitalized undergraduate programs by taking them out of the hands of graduate assistants; battled specialization and departmentalization in favor of an idealistic university of interrelated studies; amazingly, convinced the school's governing board to drop intercollegiate football; instituted comprehensive degree-examinations for students who felt they were ready; and fashioned a modern pass/fail system. Throughout his tenure, Hutchins taught a history of ideas course that led to his chairmanship of the Great Books Foundation and, later, his stewardship of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. As founder of the Center of the Study for Democratic Institutions and president of the Fund for the Republic—a powerful anti-McCarthy organization- -Hutchins's influence was felt, and his wisdom sought, from the classroom to the Oval Office. Mayer (for decades an aide and ``hired hand'' to Hutchins) does his old friend justice in this admiring but critical biography. (Sixteen illustrations)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-520-07091-7

Page Count: 550

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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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 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...


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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