This long-withheld sequel to Black Boy (1945) is an affecting, illuminating register of the evolution of Wright's artistic and political consciousness in the ten-year period just before his first books were published. Written at the same time and scheduled for publication but delayed for obscure reasons, it follows Wright through the crucial years when he first went North to Chicago (1927-36): a series of classic odd jobs as dishwasher, clerk, insurance policy hustler; exposure to influential periodicals and unrestricted library shelves; a brief, disillusioning immersion in the John Reed Club, a knot of factional disputes; and the baffling, painful break with the comrades who challenged his artistic priorities and solemn integrity. The harsh, ragged childhood of Black Boy is never far behind: even after he secured a desirable post office job, the Depression kept him and his family hungry. But Wright focuses on the books that fortified his resolve to write (Proust, Stein, psychology and sociology texts) and the events that intensified his political awareness, especially a dismal episode of latent racism at a writers' congress in New York, the "trial" of an associate who questioned policies, and Wright's own exile by peremptory party members when he refused assignments and withdrew from active participation. Even today, when variations on these themes have become familiar, Wright's version remains both personally revealing and important for its sympathetic but critical portraits of his black fellow travelers, recent migrants with limited visions and no grasp of this new form of exploitation. The first of six unpublished works to be released by the Wright Archive Committee at Yale, this is welcome as a missing piece of the puzzle, valuable as a sequel, and impressive on its own.

Pub Date: May 25, 1977


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1977

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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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