An important, long-overdue biography.



A deep biographical treatment of the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who is the scourge of those in power.

Seymour Hersh, now in his late 70s, began his unlikely journalism career in 1959 after earning a history degree from the University of Chicago and dropping out of law school. With limited cooperation from his subject, journalist and former journalism professor Miraldi (The Pen Is Mightier: The Muckraking Life of Charles Edward Russell, 2003, etc.) documents his remarkable, controversial decades as an investigative reporter. Hersh comes across as a good guy of limited patience when approached by fellow journalists and as a bulldog with sharp teeth when in his reporter mode. Miraldi clearly demonstrates how the journalistically capable but mostly unknown Hersh rocketed to fame in 1969 with his exploration of the My Lai massacre. Despite the enormity of that atrocity and countless similar atrocities by American troops, no other journalist was digging into the topic, and Hersh had difficulty finding a news outlet to publish his findings. Eventually, his output of books, investigations for the New York Times, projects for the New Yorker and speeches to a wide variety of audiences made Hersh famous, albeit alternately loved or hated. Miraldi explains why there is rarely a middle ground of opinion regarding Hersh the person and Hersh the muckraker. Although Hersh is extremely closed about his family life, Miraldi manages to reveal pertinent information, allowing his subject to emerge from the pages as fully human rather than a one-dimensional scandal hound. In the competition between Hersh and Bob Woodward—a competition that includes strong feelings from the supporters and detractors of each—Hersh can be considered to be superior based on Miraldi's portrait, despite the warts the biographer delineates. Miraldi closes the Hersh saga in 2004, after Hersh's exposé of Abu Ghraib, yet another blot on America's reputation in the world.

An important, long-overdue biography.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61234-475-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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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 19, 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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