CHURCHILL ON THE HOME FRONT

1900-1955

A masterly chronicle of Churchill as a domestic figure rather than as the bulldog wartime leader, and one of the most subtle portraits of him as a politician. Addison (History/Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland) revises the view of Churchill as uninterested and out of his depth in domestic affairs, painting instead a nuanced picture of a canny parliamentarian. Churchill changed parties twice but managed to accomplish the change, writes Addison, ``with exceptional dexterity,'' making it appear as if he were maintaining his principles while the parties changed theirs. To make his point that Churchill was deeply interested in domestic affairs, Addison emphasizes Churchill's diligence in mastering complicated briefs and focuses on key domestic issues during his long career. Contrary to the prevailing view of an impolitic Churchill who clung to principle like a dog to a bone, Addison shows him aware of the need for political cover. When, for instance, he agreed to Britain's return to the gold standard in the 1920s, he made it clear to the country that he did so only on the recommendation of his advisors. Yet Addison also admits that by 1940 Churchill had become such an old-fashioned politician that many of his most effective speeches in the House of Commons during the war were not broadcast on radio at all. After the war, he led a government so cautious about changing what Labor had instituted that Rab Butler, later chancellor of the exchequer and himself no raging extremist, said that ``Winston is so brave in war and so cowardly in peace.'' Addison's most interesting assertion is that the rise of Hitler saved Churchill from drifting into right-wing irrelevance. Most impressively, Addison doesn't settle for easy classifications, admitting that ``Churchill...is a man of whom almost everything that can be said is true in part.'' Innovative and thought-provoking. A tour de force. (12 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-7126-5826-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Pimlico/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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