Blending historical fact with solid storytelling, Cozzens delivers a nuanced study of the great warrior and his times.

TECUMSEH AND THE PROPHET

THE SHAWNEE BROTHERS WHO DEFIED A NATION

A comprehensive biography of the noted Native American leader and his overlooked brother.

William Henry Harrison, whose forces defeated Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe, held his opponent in such high esteem that he said, “If it were not for the vicinity of the United States, he would, perhaps, be the founder of an empire that would rival in glory that of Mexico or Peru.” As it was, writes historian Cozzens, Tecumseh forged a powerful alliance of Native peoples in the area from Wisconsin to Ohio that attempted to contain white expansion into the region. Tecumseh took many of his “pan-Indian” cues from the Ottawa war leader Pontiac and the Delaware prophet Neolin, both of whom led resistances against British incursions a generation before him. Important in this struggle was Tecumseh’s younger brother Tenskwatawa, called the “Shawnee prophet,” whom some historians—Cozzens calls out Alvin Josephy, author of The Patriot Chiefs (1961) and other works—have depicted as a “delusional charlatan.” Surely Tenskwatawa had his difficulties: He lived in his brother’s shadow, and he battled alcoholism. Yet the accomplishments of the brothers in uniting sometimes-contending Native tribes into a formidable army were the makings of a legend. It was their misfortune that the Shawnee people inhabited the “fault line between French and British interests, and as such was fated to become an imperial battleground.” Matters would grow worse with the War of 1812, when Tecumseh found an imperial ally in Britain but was killed on a battlefield in Canada—for which Harrison took undue credit. For various reasons, writes Cozzens, in the aftermath, Tenskwatawa “had fallen mightily in the fragmented Indian world that he and Tecumseh had striven to unite,” and after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate reservation land in the East, he ended his days in a small settlement of refugees that became known as Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

Blending historical fact with solid storytelling, Cozzens delivers a nuanced study of the great warrior and his times. (16 pages of color illustrations, 13 maps)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3325-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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