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This factual account of the Battle of the Alamo brings more vigorous personalities to life and effects more dramatic contrasts than many of its fictional competitors. Not only does Robert Penn Warren delineate battle strategies; he clarifies the ambitions and personal histories of the adversaries who met at Bexar and lays bare the stakes for which the battle was fought. The claims and crises of both Mexico and of the American settlers, desperadoes, and outlaws who lived in the no-man's-land state are dissected. Texas, hoping for equal rights in the new Mexico, after Spanish dominion was ousted, was settled 4-1 by ex-Americans. Then American immigration was halted by law — bringing to an end hopes of prosperity. And the rise of dictator Santa Anna meant an end to hopes for impartial jurisprudence. Boys and girls with any appetite for historical information will endorse this.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 1958

ISBN: 1596872616

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1958

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Proves without a doubt that even masters of the universe sometimes lose their heads, and then their shirts.

Knowing inside account of the major media conglomerates’ efforts to embrace and profit from the ’90s boom.

As the New York Post’s first computer/Internet columnist, Motavalli had a ringside seat while Disney, Time Warner, News Corp., and others tripped over themselves to get on board the emerging Internet phenomenon. With little certainty about what the successful and manageable applications of the World Wide Web would be, media corporations and their leaders nonetheless rushed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars so as not to get left behind. They helped create the bubble of inflated salaries and unlimited expectations that burst so mercilessly in 2000–01. Motavalli, who admits being swept up like everyone else in the initial euphoria, narrates with an intimate feel for the year-by-year developments: the promises and glorious optimism of a dawning technological age, the maneuvering moguls and CEOs, the media executives who doubled their income by switching to the start-ups, and the chilling reality bath that awaited all. AOL’s Steve Case, Time Warner’s Bob Pittman and Gerald Levin, John F. Kennedy Jr. of George, Time magazine’s Walter Isaacson, and iVillage’s Candace Carpenter are among the many prime movers whose trajectories are analyzed here. Some big winners emerge (AOL, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo), but more common is the fate of one Internet-related stock that fell from $150 to just $3 per share. Motavalli sees this not solely as a tale of greed and ambition run wild, but a telling parable of the herd mentality; when it appears the wheel has been reinvented, everyone wants to go along for the ride, even though the ultimate destination is unknown. Well-researched and dense with names, dates, meetings, and numbers, the author’s recollections may provide more information than most will be willing to download, but he convincingly captures the boardroom machinations of this extraordinary era.

Proves without a doubt that even masters of the universe sometimes lose their heads, and then their shirts.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-89980-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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More than 170 former law clerks—and at least some of the Justices—have broken the Supreme Court's traditional silence; and the result is a searing account of the Court's inner workings from 1967 to 1975 that shows the Chief Justice to be a fool and quite possibly a scoundrel, that exposes the other Justices to ridicule and contempt, that casts doubt on the highest court as a judicious arbiter of anything. Whether or not this wholesale disrobing is a good thing, it was probably inevitable once Burger, newly installed as Chief, attempted to muzzle his law clerks and went on to flout the Court's rules of procedure—withholding his vote so he could join the majority and assign himself the writing of the opinion. In rebuttal, the other Brethren ganged up on him—determined not to let his unrepresentative views pass as the majority opinion, not to let his ineptly drafted opinions go on public record and become legal precedent. Ultimately they succeeded in stealing his majority: a dissent draft-opinion became the 7-1 choice. Its announcement stands, here, as the book's dramatic peak. What the reader sees, then, is a lawless court, ruled by the vanities and proclivities of men. Woodward and Armstrong would not, however, call it a Burger Court: with the ends increasingly polarized (Brennan and Marshall vs. Burger and Rehnquist), with the Chief a legal featherweight and a flagrant usurper, the nonideological craftsmen of the center—they contend—took control. This assessment is not entirely borne out by post-1975 rulings, many of them written by Rehnquist for the majority; but it is incidental to the book's impact. With every legal and extra-legal mo, explicated, with comings-and-goings and conversations recounted in creepy de tail ("The door to Stewart's inner office was open, and they heard someone come into the outer office. There was a moment of silence. . ."), it makes compulsive, unnerving, electric reading. Here is an elderly, intractable Hugo Black invoking a technicality to thwart the majority and bar innumerable Blackmun was dumbfounded. . . now he was a petitioners from the courts ("justice and had the same power"); here is Douglas, "never a man to procrastinate before wreaking havoc," sending a savage memo to the Chief (text provided); here is Stewart, haunted by the Sherlock Holmes case of "the dog that didn't bark," suspecting the Chief of "purposely leaving unanswered some crucial, but hidden, question." And, for comic relief, here are the annual (blue) "movie days." But only once, apropos of Douglas and two put-upon clerks, does the account become truly petty, and only very infrequently are thoughts imputed for which there is no plausible source. Dirty linen or not, most of this has to be believed—and it's dynamite.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0743274024

Page Count: 596

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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