THEODORE ROOSEVELT

A LIFE

Appropriately big and vigorous life of the 26th President, by Miller (Stealing from America, p. 772; F.D.R., 1982, etc.). Despite his modern-day reputation as an imperialist and worse, Roosevelt emerges from Miller's pages—the first major one-volume life of TR since William Henry Harbaugh's Power and Responsibility (1961)—as a tremendously energetic reformer and moral beacon on the issues of his age. He took on corrupt politicians and bureaucrats throughout his career, and he instituted federal regulation of food and drug purity and of rapacious big business. Miller details the Roosevelt myth—TR's willful growth from puny scion to Rough Rider to ``big stick'' President—and finds it to be largely accurate, but the author concentrates less on the public man and more on his relations with close associates. Described by Lord Morley as ``a cross between St. Vitus and St. Paul,'' Roosevelt was perceived by his friend Henry Adams as having ``that singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter—the quality that medieval theology assigned to God—he was pure act.'' Roosevelt's career rose meteorically from his election to the New York State Senate, and by age 24 he was the most famous politician in the state. Yet his personal life was marred by tragedy: His beloved first wife, Alice, died at 22 of a kidney disease; and his brother Elliot (father of Eleanor) died of an alcoholic seizure. Miller masters not only Roosevelt but fascinating ancillary facts as well—e.g., how TR's secretary of state, John Hay, while a young reporter, traced the origin of the Great Chicago Fire to Mrs. O'Leary's infamous cow. A sympathetic, detailed, tremendously readable account of the eventful life of our most energetic, irrepressible President. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-06784-0

Page Count: 542

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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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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