A treat for book lovers, especially those who lust for the productions of Feltrinelli, Bompiani, and, of course, Adelphi.

THE ART OF THE PUBLISHER

The eminent Italian litteratus and publisher brings learning and passion to this chronicle of the business of getting books into the hands of readers.

American bibliophiles covet books published by Knopf and the Modern Library. Italians look, foremost among other houses, to Adelphi, where Calasso (Ardor, 2014, etc.) has been working since its founding in 1962. With a look and feel that can’t be mistaken for books published by other houses, the books of Adelphi fulfill what the author considers chief among the criteria of artful publishing: “the capacity to give form to a plurality of books as though they were the chapters of a single book.” Describing publishing as, alternately, an example of what the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss called bricolage and, more modernly, as “a hybrid multimedia literary genre,” Calasso stakes a claim for both up-to-dateness and reverence for tradition—for, he argues, the best publisher ever was one of the first, the great Venetian printer and entrepreneur Aldus Manutius. But not too much up-to-dateness—for all that multimedia talk, the author spends a good part of this slender book arguing directly and indirectly with the American technology writer Kevin Kelly, whose embrace of e-books and an end of mass-produced physical books sends Calasso up the wall. Much of this collection hinges on some knowledge of Italian cultural affairs, or at least enough familiarity with history to appreciate a sentiment such as, “the writings of the Red Brigades are always hard going at the start.” But much, too, is pure celebration of books and the devotion to letters that good publishers evidence in abundance and excess, a good publisher being, as Calasso writes, “one who publishes one tenth of the books that he would like to, and perhaps ought to, publish.”

A treat for book lovers, especially those who lust for the productions of Feltrinelli, Bompiani, and, of course, Adelphi.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-18823-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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