A welcome re-evaluation of an American legend.



Daniel Boone didn’t wear a coonskin cap. He liked to read. He wasn’t particularly murderous. So much for American myths.

Morgan (Brave Enemies, 2003, etc.) risks being overshadowed by John Mack Faragher’s Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer (1992), which is much stronger, especially on Boone’s significance as a Rousseauvian man of nature. Yet Morgan is an able storyteller with a fine appreciation for Boone as a man of action—and a man of his times. Boone entered history as one of the teamsters accompanying General Edward Braddock’s ill-fated campaign to attack the French in Ohio, which ended in a battle that catapulted another American on the scene, George Washington, to fame. The British were routed. “To save himself,” writes Morgan, “young Boone cut his horses loose and rode after the fleeing troops.” It would not be the last time that Boone would decide that withdrawal was the better part of valor, a strategic sensibility that saved his neck on the Kentucky frontier, where he became a skilled diplomat working among many Indian nations while earning a fair income gathering ginseng. Boone had solid leadership skills, as commemorated in George Caleb Bingham’s iconic portrait of Boone leading wary settlers through the Cumberland Gap. Though a frontiersman suspicious of customary authority, he also commanded respect among the military. Court-martialed after a disastrous battle against the British and their Shawnee allies during the Revolutionary War, Boone emerged both exonerated and promoted. (To spite his accuser, though, he moved out of the town named for him, Boonesborough.) He would later be accused of dishonest surveying and other misdemeanors, charges that, Morgan writes, had some basis in carelessness but not in malice. Such dealings with his fellow Americans, however, inclined Boone not to have much to do with them—and thus he pressed ever onward, away from their smoking chimneys over a long lifetime.

A welcome re-evaluation of an American legend.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-56512-455-4

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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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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