Anyone who loves English royal history will enjoy this new take on a personality surprisingly little mentioned in the...

ELIZABETH'S RIVAL

THE TUMULTUOUS LIFE OF THE COUNTESS OF LEICESTER: THE ROMANCE AND CONSPIRACY THAT THREATENED QUEEN ELIZABETH'S COURT

Just when you thought there was nothing new to learn about Elizabethan England, Tallis (Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, 2016) tells the compelling story of Lettice Knollys (1543-1634), who was close to the queen for years but eventually became her rival.

Lettice’s mother, Katherine, was most likely the illegitimate daughter of Mary Boleyn and Henry VIII and so half sister to Elizabeth, then Lettice’s aunt. Katherine and Elizabeth were raised together and were always very close. As queen, Elizabeth held Katherine and Lettice close to her at court. Both were favorites to the queen, but Lettice was not as wise as her mother and eventually married the queen’s suitor, Robert Dudley. That was after her first marriage to Walter Devereux, a marriage that was happy and produced a number of children. Dudley was the only one who really came close to talking Elizabeth into marriage, but it was never to be. After 20 years of waiting, he fell in love with Lettice, now widowed, and they married secretly. The author gives us a number of reasons why he would dare incur the queen’s wrath. Lettice offered marriage, heirs, and a stable domestic life, and they plunged ahead. It was a pleasant marriage, but Lettice seemed to throw her status up to the queen, infuriating her more. Dudley was eventually forgiven, but Lettice never was. For years, she sought forgiveness, hoping that her son might use his influence to bring it about. The fascinating connections between the great families of the period show what a small world it was; everyone was a cousin or spouse of someone connected to the queen. In her research, Tallis consulted many household records, correspondence, and a scandalous publication called Leicester’s Commonwealth, printed by Dudley’s enemies after his death. On the whole, the author provides an informative, well-crafted narrative and easily avoids the confusion of the nobility’s many titles.

Anyone who loves English royal history will enjoy this new take on a personality surprisingly little mentioned in the history books.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-657-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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