Ham makes many good points, but while useful and well-executed, this is an ordinary entry in a field dominated by more...

YOUNG HITLER

THE MAKING OF THE FÜHRER

Another book on the making of the world’s most studied dictator.

As former Sunday Times correspondent Ham (Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath, 2014, etc.) notes, the rise of Adolf Hitler from provincial nobody to central figure on the world stage would have been impossible without a chain of extraordinary catastrophes: the collapse of the old European empires, economic depression, and, particularly, the bloodletting of World War I. In that regard, Hitler, already known as a prudish and abstemious young man, was a brave, dutiful soldier who, unlike so many in the trenches, “never abandoned his belief in the sacrifice, for the glory of the German Army and the future of the Reich, a goal for which every man must be willing to give his life.” Even so, Ham adds, Hitler was never quite the war hero of later Nazi myth. He did not single-handedly capture a squad of enemy soldiers at the end of a pistol, and neither did he oppose the anti-war left, at least at the beginning of a political career marked by “opportunity, hypocrisy, skill and sheer desperation.” In his study of formative politics, Ham ponders why Hitler’s anti-Semitism grew to such virulent proportions when, throughout much of his early years, that sentiment was absent. The author’s speculations in that regard will be of interest to students of mass psychology as much as history, as are his notes on Hitler’s protean ability to be all things to all people and make promises he never intended to keep—but also ones he did. Perhaps the greatest contribution of this book in a time of resurgent nationalism is its quiet reminder that Hitler was an all-too-human product of his time who “personified the feelings of millions, and still does.”

Ham makes many good points, but while useful and well-executed, this is an ordinary entry in a field dominated by more authoritative books.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-747-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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