Though not a traditional gangster book—Hicks was certainly a pirate and a murderer, but he lacked a loyal gang or specific...

THE LAST PIRATE OF NEW YORK

A GHOST SHIP, A KILLER, AND THE BIRTH OF A GANGSTER NATION

A tale of mid-1800s New York City and “the first gangster, a model for Lansky and Gambino.”

Though Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone contributor Cohen (The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse, 2017, etc.) claims his latest is about the birth of a gangster nation, the narrative focuses on one horrific multiple murder, the capture of the culprit by a star detective, and the trial. At the center of this book is Albert Hicks (circa 1820-1860), the supposed founding father of the New York underworld. The author delivers an entertaining story, beginning with a picture of New York City just before the Civil War, especially the seedy underbelly surrounding the port. Hicks’ childhood was marked by a wild, restless disposition, aversion to labor, and the perpetual need to fight. As a teenager, he served his first prison term, escaped, and was caught and put in solitary confinement for a year. Feeling hopeless and abandoned, he set off for revenge and to make his fortune. Signing on to an oyster sloop, he proved to be a good worker—until boredom set in or something angered him and he lost his temper. Aboard another ship a few voyages later, he was involved in his first mutiny, an event that, sadly, proved to be his best learning experience. He was a good speaker and persuader and was easily able to draw crews to mutiny, after which they would take the profits from the voyage and blow it all on wine, women, and gambling. It became the template for his life of crime before he was executed by hanging in front of a massive crowd of nearly 20,000.

Though not a traditional gangster book—Hicks was certainly a pirate and a murderer, but he lacked a loyal gang or specific territory—this is a rollicking, page-turning tale that is “too great and grisly to be anything but true.”

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-58992-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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