A reverential look inside the intricate workings of Queen, Inc.—likely to appeal mostly to British readers and royal...

HER MAJESTY

THE COURT OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II

A courtier’s fawning portrait of the longed-lived, thoroughly modern monarch.

At 60 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. According to British royal biographer Hardman (A Year with the Queen, 2007, etc.), she has never been so well loved and appreciated by her people for he r many virtues. The author examines the success of her long reign in terms of her ability to confront the “anachronistic pantomime” of the hereditary institution and institute reforms (whether she liked it or not), as she was forced to do with Lord Airlie’s royal-efficiency controls put in place in the ’80s. The royal household resumed paying taxes, thus becoming self-sufficient and managing to prove to the British government its continued relevancy and independence. Hardman rehearses the highs and lows of the queen’s reign, from her triumphal accession in 1952 and world tour a year later, to the frequently abominable behavior of her wayward children, the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 and aftermath of the death of Lady Diana. Things could only get better. Since the ’90s, the palace staff has modernized, computerized, consolidated dining rooms, opened the pool and royal opera box to more democratic use and acquired an in-palace dairy. The queen makes dizzying tours of her Commonwealth every year and has been served by a dozen British prime ministers, no longer choosing them herself. Except for a rare glimpse at her temper in an unguarded, human moment caught on film in 1954 (hurling shoes and curses at the fleeing Duke of Edinburgh, her husband), Elizabeth II remains in this stately portrait as enigmatic (or merely blank) as she ever was.

A reverential look inside the intricate workings of Queen, Inc.—likely to appeal mostly to British readers and royal watchers.

Pub Date: April 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60598-361-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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