LEADERS

            Recollections of Churchill, de Gaulle, Khrushchev, et al. recycled from RN – plus biographical material from the public domain and a few thoughts on leadership by which Nixon identifies himself with his subjects.  The great political leader must be willing “to risk all to gain all”; to endure opprobrium; to spend years “in the wilderness.”  (In all these respects, see also Adenauer.)  Two of the lesser lights in Nixon’s pantheon – Japan’s Yoshida, Italy’s de Gasperi – resisted radicalism; two – Australia’s Menzies, Singapore’s Lee – were champions of free enterprise who made their countries rich.  (“The pursuit of affluence is much ridiculed by those who have never known the absence of it.”)  Other cross-comparisons, endemic throughout, are simply extensions of Nixon’s hackneyed characterizations or his connect-the-dot grasp of history:  “If David Ben-Gurion was an elemental force of history, Golda Meir was an elemental force of nature.”  “Like Ghana’s Nkrumah, Indonesia’s Sukarno proved a disaster once independence was secured.  Both could destroy; neither could build.”  Furthermore:  Chou was charming, Mao earthy; Chiang orderly, Mao slovenly.  And Mao, “like most revolutionary leaders, could destroy but could not build.”  Much of the book, however, consists of stock biographical data, stock anecdotes, or stock quotes.  Even Nixon’s ostentatious dissents from the common view are pat:  de Gaulle’s reputed arrogance notwithstanding, “I found him to be a very kind man…I would say he was almost gentle”; “in spite of [Adenauer’s] outward austerity…he was a warm, good-humored, gentle man.”  The close-Nixon-watcher might indeed find his admiration for de Gaulle and Adenauer of some interest.  (Both are lauded as family men; both befriended him when he was out of office.)  But for a self-proclaimed avid reader of history (another attribute of leadership), he is remarkably unaware that others have heard his story of the “kitchen debate” with Khrushchev before, or also know that Churchill and de Gaulle were “voices in the wilderness” in the Thirties.  And it would be beyond his ken that some might not equate his defeat for the California governorship with their warnings against the Nazi rise.  Pretty tiresome, even for the sympathetically-inclined.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 1982

ISBN: 0446512494

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Warner UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1982

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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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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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