Scott remains a footnote, but Coram’s book is a pleasure for fans of military aviation history.

DOUBLE ACE

THE LIFE OF ROBERT LEE SCOTT JR., PILOT, HERO, AND TELLER OF TALL TALES

Military biographer Coram (Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine, 2010, etc.) continues his campaign of restoring heroes-turned-footnotes to historical memory.

There’s no question that Robert Lee Scott (1908-2006) was a character; there’s also no question that, in the larger scheme of World War II, he was a minor player. The character business provides the author with plenty of entertaining anecdotes: as a young man from Macon, Georgia, for instance, Scott earned a Boy Scout merit badge in aviation for building a model airplane: “But a model was not ambitious enough for Rob, and so he built a glider, almost full-sized, and covered it with canvas cut from the tent of a traveling evangelist preacher.” Whether the preacher missed the cloth we do not know, but Scott would always protest that the glider experiment was the only time he ever crashed an airplane. A frozen pipe kept him from earning an AWOL charge, a lucky break that Scott credited to the deity: “The Big Sky Boss was on the job.” Flying with Claire Chennault and the Flying Tigers, Scott accumulated on-the-ground experiences and aerial kills alike, cultivating an unlikely alliance with Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the first lady of China, who had spent six years in Macon and was, Coram writes in genre cliché, “the original steel magnolia.” Scott helped Chennault agitate for a strong American presence in the Chinese theater, writing a wartime memoir whose title was for a long time a catchphrase: God Is My Co-Pilot. As Coram writes, Scott also played a role in the political maneuvering that led in the immediate postwar period to the establishment of a separate Air Force independent of the Army. Throughout, the author writes competently but without much flair; what carries the story is the subject, who had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, especially when it came to shooting down Japanese planes.

Scott remains a footnote, but Coram’s book is a pleasure for fans of military aviation history.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-04018-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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