A fair-minded memoir and portrayal of an exceptionally divisive civil rights–era politician.

THE BROKEN ROAD

GEORGE WALLACE AND A DAUGHTER’S JOURNEY TO RECONCILIATION

A segregationist’s daughter recalls growing up on the wrong side of history in her debut memoir.

Kennedy, who lives in Montgomery, Alabama, makes it clear that she has no plans to whitewash the legacy of her father, four-term Alabama governor George Wallace (1919-1998), who proclaimed: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” The author writes that when Wallace denied any role in the brutal assaults on civil rights marchers in Selma, on the day known as Bloody Sunday, he resembled “Pontius Pilate washing his hands” of guilt. However, she tries gently to correct a few misperceptions of her father. When Wallace renounced his views on segregation after an assassination attempt left him a paraplegic, many observers saw it as another crass political move, but the author notes that in private conversations late in life, he was sincerely “ashamed and regretful.” She also shows poignantly the toll his actions took on his family and draws parallels between his tactics and those of Donald Trump. Before Wallace persuaded the Alabama legislature to change the law to allow him to serve more than one term as governor, he had his wife, Lurleen, run as his stand-in despite a recent diagnosis of uterine cancer; she died after 15 months in office. The author has suffered from chronic depression and received electroconvulsive therapy for “reactive psychosis caused by stress” even as she’s tried to ease others’ pain through civil rights activism. She doesn’t say whether the ECT helped or how she evolved from loyal daughter to social justice advocate—did she have a Damascene moment?—two of many subjects on which she seems to repress as much as express. Kennedy tells her story well, but she leaves the impression that—whether because of her Southern good manners or because some subjects are still too painful to talk about—her history involves more than she can yet say.

A fair-minded memoir and portrayal of an exceptionally divisive civil rights–era politician.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-365-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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