AN EVEN BETTER PLACE

AMERICA IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Personal reflections and policy proposals from the minority leader of the House of Representatives. Gephardt (D-Missouri) is something of an anomaly within his party these days in that he actually sounds like a Democrat. He is pro-union, admits to being a liberal, thinks government has a positive role to play in the lives of American citizens, and doesn’t much like the policies of the Republicans. Yet as partisan as he is, he decries what he terms “the politics of personal destruction,” the vindictive war of innuendo and accusation between the two major parties that has been going on in Congress since the time of Watergate. Citizens, he fears, now view politics as little more than “gladiatorial entertainment” and so see little value in participating in the political process. Gephardt sounds sincere when he states that he believes such cynicism can be overcome and enumerates several ways in which cooperatively we can all make America an even better place. Unfortunately, he does not go into much detail on what specifically we all might do. Though he covers a number of important policy areas—from labor relations to health care, foreign trade to schooling—his recommendations are safely vague, his arguments underdeveloped. He is perhaps most effective when he ties his own son’s battle with cancer to the need for health-care coverage for all Americans, but sums up what might be done in a single sentence suggesting that tax credits for small businesses could help. Assisted by former aide Wessel, Gephardt writes clearly and accessibly; it’s regrettable that he seems to feel the need to oversimplify in order to reach a wide audience. Not bad, as books by politicians go. Gephardt does seem to truly care about where America is headed. However, he’s ambiguous as to just where that might be. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-891620-16-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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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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