A pleasure for true-crime buffs and a better read than Jeff Guinn’s Go Down Together (2009)—though Guinn breaks more news.

BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE LIVES BEHIND THE LEGEND

Fast-paced account of the fast-lived lives of Mr. Barrow and Ms. Parker.

In Arthur Penn’s 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, Faye Dunaway was a fine fit for Bonnie, who, said one eyewitness, “could turn heads.” Schneider (Brutal Journey: The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America, 2006, etc.) is inclined to a touch more noirish poetry, describing the young Dallas waitress as looking “like a piece of candy…dressed in a funny uniform with enormous lapels, like some cross between a French maid and Raggedy Anne, and she’s barely taller than the big brass cash register on the counter.” But Warren Beatty? Well, Clyde Barrow wasn’t the king stud of the Texas bad guys—that honor went to a contemporary aptly named “Dapper Dan”—but rather a thin drink of water, albeit with a very bad attitude and a solid record of standing tall before judges. Schneider takes some risk in attempting to put himself into the heads of Bonnie, Clyde and assorted criminals and lawmen. But, as he points out in a note on sources, the story has been well covered before by numerous contemporaries of the Depression-era dastardly duo, so that there are plenty of primary sources to back up his claims. Schneider does a righteous job of understanding Bonnie and Clyde, and if they’re not wholly sympathetic—they did kill folks, after all—they’re not wholly monstrous either. Thanks to Penn’s film, there are plenty of people who have some sense of how they lived and died—spectacularly, and without much regard for the messes they left behind. Schneider shows how oddly accurate the film got at least those final moments, all rat-a-tat machine guns and chirping cicadas.

A pleasure for true-crime buffs and a better read than Jeff Guinn’s Go Down Together (2009)—though Guinn breaks more news.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8672-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: John Macrae/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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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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