An engrossing character study of the beautiful, brave, but psychologically bent princess who became an icon, by Vanity Fair contriduting editor Smith. Diana, her family, her friends, and the media who dogged her seemed bent on denying the serious emotional problems that shaped her private and sometimes public actions. According to Smith (Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Churchill Harriman, 1996), Diana almost certainly suffered from borderline personality disorder, a psychiatric diagnosis characterized by feelings of inferiority, dependence, and confusion about identity. Borderline personalities are often “self-destructive, easily depressed, panicky and volatile,” while superficially “charming, insightful, witty, and lively.” As revealed in this profile, backed by archival research and personal interviews, Diana was all of the above and more. Given to bulimia, self-mutilation, lies, and suicide attempts through most of her adult life, Diana’s problems began at six years old when her “childhood was shattered” by her parents’ separation; the pressure of her royal engagement brought all her insecurities to the surface. Charles was unable, although at first not unwilling, to cope. He arranged psychiatric counseling several times, to no avail. In 1985, Diana took the first of a series of lovers, and Charles turned to Camilla; envy, vengeance, pride, fear, rage, despair , and ignorance all played roles in the divorce that followed, says Smith. She maintains an even keel in assessing the princess, giving credit for her genuine devotion to her children as well as her warmth, compassion, and generosity. The author also acknowledges Charles for trying, if ineffectually, to help his wife, while indicting the British tabloid press for using her to sell newspapers. Probably not the definitive study (many witnessses to Diana’s life are still unwilling to talk on the record), but an informed and astute appraisal of the 20th century’s possibly most celebrated celebrity. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First serial to People magazine; Literary Guild selection; author tour; TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8129-3030-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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