Finely delineated history, authoritative and skillfully fashioned.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

ROAD TO THE NEW DEAL, 1882-1939

A vigorous, thorough examination of the New Deal programs, pinpointing Franklin Roosevelt’s successes and failures and much improvisation.

A retired scholar with specializations in immigration and ethnicity, Daniels (Emeritus, History/Univ. of Cincinnati; Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882, 2004, etc.), like many other historians, revered Roosevelt and intended always to write a biography. However, writing frankly that his subject’s “inner essence” was inscrutable, Daniels concentrates on the “public discourses” the voluble governor and president made as he began to fashion the New Deal agenda. In a dense but consistently informative narrative, the author incorporates a great deal of FDR’s “direct discourse.” Moving chronologically, though swiftly through his childhood, early career in the New York Legislature (where he first encountered the enormous talent of reporter Louis Howe), and years as assistant secretary of the Navy, Daniels devotes his astute observations to FDR’s thrust into politics. He skirted aside a reputation as “a playboy and idler” and dug into the issues he would have to deal with as president (e.g., “mass poverty and its relief”), and he honed his effective communication and management styles. Although Herbert Hoover had been delivering the same kind of confidence-bolstering speeches as FDR when the latter won election in 1932, Roosevelt had by then “transformed the mood of a nation.” Daniels emphasizes that there was no blueprint for the New Deal; FDR, who believed in balanced budgets and never called himself Keynesian, was flying by the seat of his pants in 1933. His first priority was to “stop the bleeding” in the financial sector, support farm policy, and get people back to work via wildly popular programs geared more to the middle class than the “forgotten man.” While some programs succeeded, the severe 1937 economic downturn probably resulted from his stopping the spending too early.

Finely delineated history, authoritative and skillfully fashioned.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-252-03951-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Univ. of Illinois

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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