History brought to vivid life in the characters of these women of purpose.

THE RIVAL QUEENS

CATHERINE DE' MEDICI, HER DAUGHTER MARGUERITE DE VALOIS, AND THE BETRAYAL THAT IGNITED A KINGDOM

Two Renaissance queens—who also happened to be mother and daughter—receive a thorough treatment.

Goldstone certainly knows her queens (The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc, 2012, etc.). Through the story of this mother-daughter relationship of Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589) and her daughter, Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), the author spins a tangled tale of rivalry, ambition, and, especially—for the rare women leaders of the time—sheer self-preservation. Catherine is the more well-documented monarch: married at age 14 to the French prince who became Henri II, she grew from a docile pawn of her wealthy family into a formidable player in the Catholic-Huguenot wars by acting as regent to one son and éminence grise to another. Indeed, Goldstone reveals her to be “an able disciple of Machiavelli” in her eagerness to play her children off one another. Marguerite is less known, but she was an extremely important component to the religious animosities roiling Europe and Britain at the time, as she was forced to marry the leader of the Huguenot party, her cousin Henry of Navarre (future Henri IV), as a way for her mother to neutralize the pesky Protestant element threatening the stability of France. Her marriage to Henry in 1572 precipitated the horrific Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre five days later and caused the spiritual grief of her life. Catherine and Marguerite were often at odds, but Marguerite proved no shrinking violet. While her mother manipulated the interests of her spoiled favorite son, Henri III, Marguerite managed to conduct her own love affairs and championed to her advantage the political maneuvering of her younger brother. Throughout the book, Goldstone has a remarkable handle on these often Byzantine royal machinations.

History brought to vivid life in the characters of these women of purpose.

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-40965-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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