MICHAEL AND NATASHA

THE LIFE AND LOVE OF MICHAEL II, THE LAST OF THE ROMANOV TSARS

Thwarted love, scandal, and tragedy among royals, this time played out in the genuinely moving story of Michael Romanov. At the beginning of the century, the Romanov rulers of Russia faced turmoil both in politics and in their personal lives. Scandals and feuds erupted as various Romanovs defied Tsar Nicholas by marrying commoners and divorcÇes, and by taking sides for or against the controversial Tsaritsa Alexandra. Because Michael, Nicholas's younger brother by ten years, was a potential heir to the throne, his personal life carried very public implications. Thus, when he fell in love with a married woman (and divorcÇe), Natasha Wulfert, it was both a political and a family scandal. After fathering a son with her, Michael, a loyal lover and dedicated family man, defied the tsar's orders and married Natasha secretly in Vienna. Outraged, Nicholas took drastic measures, denying him money and removing him from the regency. Yet after spending several years in European exile, Michael and Natasha returned to Russia with the outbreak of WW I; when the Motherland was at stake, family rows could be put aside. Their return also led to their tragic end: Michael, chosen by Nicholas as his heir upon his abdication, was imprisoned and executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, while Natasha later died alone and destitute in Paris. The Crawfords, British journalists, tell two stories here: the compelling account of a private romance and enduring love, and a less focused narrative of the historical circumstances that determined the couple's fate. Well researched, but lengthy and overly detailed, the book will appeal especially to fans of royal romances. Given this intimate and persuasive account of a decent, honest man, readers cannot help but wonder about the course of history if only Michael, and not Nicholas, had been tsar. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-83430-8

Page Count: 441

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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