A painful but expert historical account.



Hitler had little trouble destroying German democracy, and this fine history describes how he did it.

Fritzsche (History/Univ. of Illinois; An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler, 2016, etc.) emphasizes that Germany was a divided, turbulent nation when Hitler became chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933. The Nazis were Germany’s largest party, but a series of elections in 1932 showed no groundswell in its favor, and most establishment leaders considered Hitler a loose cannon. President Paul von Hindenburg refused to appoint him chancellor, and Hitler refused to serve under anyone else. It was only when influential conservatives assured Hindenburg that they could control Hitler from subordinate positions in the cabinet that he changed his mind. Even readers who know what followed will not put down Fritzsche’s gruesomely fascinating account, as he chronicles how Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to schedule another election and then launched a fierce campaign, using government powers and his own paramilitaries to suppress opposition. The result was not a landslide, but the Nazis and their minor partners controlled just above 50% of the Reichstag. Proclaiming that the nation faced massive communist terrorism, Hitler urged officials to pass an enabling act, giving him dictatorial powers. To achieve the necessary two-thirds vote, he arrested the communist delegates, but in the end, it passed overwhelmingly. By May 9, the 100th day, Nazis had seized the governments of the federal states, dismantled trade unions, passed the first anti-Semitic laws, and destroyed all opposing political parties. Dachau and other new concentration camps quickly filled. In the final chapters, Fritzsche describes Germany over that summer and fall as mass arrests and violence dwindled. In return for enthusiastic devotion, Hitler assured citizens that they were the salt of the earth, that he would crush a despicable elite responsible for their miseries, and that sneering foreigners would realize that Germany was a great nation again. Most Germans found this appealing, and it remains a crowd-pleaser for power-hungry politicians around the world.

A painful but expert historical account.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5416-9743-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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 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...


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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