Thanks to this intrepid author, Lata Brandisová re-enters the hall of champions to inspire those who come after her.

UNBREAKABLE

THE WOMAN WHO DEFIED THE NAZIS IN THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS HORSE RACE

Biography of a Czech countess who “confront[ed] the warrior-athletes of the Third Reich in a sporting contest so extreme in its dangers that some would question its right to be called sport.”

Askwith (People Power, 2018, etc.) does admirable literary detective work in unearthing the remarkable story of Countess Lata Brandisová (1895-1981), whose early life coincided with an era of glittering aristocratic privilege followed by the catastrophic destruction brought on by World War I. Hailing from a large noble family with Austrian roots in a sprawling inherited estate in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), Lata was mostly home-schooled and largely “ungovernable.” With her siblings, she ran wild throughout the estate grounds, and she was passionate about the horses acquired by her father, a former cavalry officer who had “limited cash but plenty of dash.” Bohemian hunters were famous for their riding prowess, and many of the huntsmen were actually English expatriates who competed in the reckless steeplechase, a sport whose premier event was the Grand Pardubice. Yet the privilege to ride in it—or folly for the horses, 29 of which have died during over the past 145 years—fell to the men, at least until World War I shook up the “inertia of the age.” Despite the abolishment of aristocratic titles and the breakup of her family’s inherited lands, Lata grew in confidence and applied for an amateur jockey license in 1927. At the same time, her cousin was elected to the Prague Jockey Club and introduced her to her first equine partner, and she ran her first Grand Pardubice, with disastrous results. Askwith depicts suspensefully Lata’s amazing mettle and perseverance over the next few years despite the notorious difficulty of the race. In 1937, riding against the Nazi-owned top-of-the-line horses (“Himmler’s Cavalry”), Lata won, to the astonishment of 40,000 spectators “mad with joy.”

Thanks to this intrepid author, Lata Brandisová re-enters the hall of champions to inspire those who come after her.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-210-5

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more