Known to college students the world over for her Patterns of Culture. Ruth Benedict occupied or created a singular place for herself in the history of a young human science. Margaret Mead knew her first as a student, then as a colleague and friend, and now brings to this symposium of Mrs. Benedict's professional and often personal papers a tender and perceptive regard for her quest and its precious yield. The seeking woman comes to us first in an essay on childhood days, in the journals written sporadically from 1912 to 1916, in the poems, the best of which record the anguish of a marriage which brought no child and found the partners increasingly apart. After much probing, she found affinity with Boas and Sapir, and their discipline to which she could apply her poetic perceptions, and through which she could search for as yet undiscovered country. Dr. Mead sets forth numerous essays, introductions, letters from the field to her from Mrs. Benedict, to Sapir, to Franz that reveal this "figure in transition", so sensitive to the individual aspects of cultures, to the vision of other eyes. As the early "Anne Singleton" poems gave way to maturer offerings, so the contributions to anthropology gained a sureness and scope that left a lovely mark and opened new channels to human understanding. Dr. Mead's sensibility of interpretation is further intimation of her own stature as an outstanding contributor and indication that she has taken and carried the torch with valor. Belles, letters, autobiography, the history of a formative period in anthropology are encompassed here, and will be sought out by all students of civilized life.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 1959

ISBN: 1412818508

Page Count: 617

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1958

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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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