For a more mature and nuanced look at the life of Meyer Lansky and his family, look elsewhere. A good place to start: Robert...

DAUGHTER OF THE KING

GROWING UP IN GANGLAND

A biography of a true Mafia princess that leaves a lot to the imagination, despite assistance from veteran Hollywood chronicler Stadiem (Moneywood: Hollywood in Its Last Age of Excess, 2013, etc.).

It's no secret that readers are fascinated by the rich, the famous and the criminal, so it’s no surprise that Sandra Lansky, daughter of infamous mob boss Meyer Lansky (1902–1983), has a platform from which to share her story. However, this is no insider's account of the Mafia's heyday. The author, in what seems to be an attempt to protect her father’s memory from the stain of organized crime, hasn't just whitewashed the story; she's bleached it. Lansky refers to many of the men in the book as “uncle,” but she claims to know little about the machinations of her father and his associates. She does cover the basics: Meyer was in business with all the usual suspects, was intimately involved with gambling, had a hand in Las Vegas and built a resort in Cuba. Unfortunately, the author provides very few details of the business, elements that would make the tale far more intriguing. When she does speak of her father and his associates, she is intent on convincing readers that they were honest businessmen, demonized by a cruel and unfair government. Personal details are in better supply, but even when writing about her sex life, drug use or fear over her father's legal troubles, the narrative is only surface deep. Though she writes about her past truthfully, the prose lacks revelation. Lansky admits candidly that she was spoiled and lived in forced silence, but she writes wistfully, as though she wishes for a life forever frozen in childhood.

For a more mature and nuanced look at the life of Meyer Lansky and his family, look elsewhere. A good place to start: Robert Lacey’s Little Man (1991).

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60286-215-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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