DEATH OF A TYCOON

AN INSIDER'S ACCOUNT OF THE FALL OF ROBERT MAXWELL

Intermittently absorbing testimony to the idiosyncratic—and autocratic—management style of the British media baron who was discredited as a swindler after his mysterious death in late 1991, coupled with an apologia that doth protest more than a bit too much. Davies (White Lies, 1991) was foreign editor of London's Daily Mirror when, in 1984, Robert Maxwell gained ownership of the tabloid newspaper and made him a confidant. A constant companion on ``Cap'n Bob'' 's globe-trotting forays, Davies provides tellingly detailed accounts of his boss's boorishly eccentric behavior in venues ranging from Communist chancellories to Tokyo. While the author doesn't claim to have realized that Maxwell was looting the pension funds of publicly traded and privately held enterprises under his control, he leaves little doubt that grandiose ambitions helped drive the financier to the shady side of the street. Davies also adds to the posthumous charges against Maxwell with such plausible if speculative allegations as that his employer laundered money for the KGB through Liechtenstein trusts. He further argues that Maxwell ran afoul of America's Mafia as a result of attempting to cut distribution costs at N.Y.C.'s Daily News (his last takeover). Rather late in the game, Davies gets around to addressing charges leveled by Seymour Hersh in The Samson Option (1991) that he himself had been an arms dealer and that Maxwell was an agent of Israel's Mossad. Davies (who endorses the consensus view that Maxwell committed suicide rather than face exposure as a common crook) pooh-poohs the notion that his former boss was an intelligence operative, while copping what will strike many as an unpersuasive plea on his own behalf. Vivid, occasionally axe-grinding, vignettes that contribute a modicum of depth to the still incomplete portrait of an apparently world-class villain. (Photos—eight pp.—not seen)

Pub Date: May 20, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-09249-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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 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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