A careful and capable portrait, of much interest to advocates of activist, beneficent government and students of the Kennedy...

SARGE

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SARGENT SHRIVER

An overstuffed but highly readable biography of the liberal stalwart who founded the Peace Corps, Head Start, Special Olympics, and many other good causes.

Sargent Shriver was a long-suffering soldier in difficult crusades, writes Atlantic Monthly editor Stossel; a devout Catholic and the scion of Confederate heroes, he felt it his duty, as he wrote while serving as an editor at the Yale Daily News, to “believe that things can be accomplished; that those who have ideals and are willing to work for them can attain their ambitions; in short, that the world is not too much with us but by sincere and untiring effort can be made a better place to live in.” Shriver’s collegiate idealism never faded, though it shifted at points; his service in the US Navy in WWII, for instance, removed any glamour he might have found in war, though he forever remained a tough anticommunist and Cold Warrior. Indeed, writes Stossel, it was Shriver who brought Robert McNamara into the Kennedy administration, “having been impressed, some years before, by a report on McNamara and the other ‘whiz kids’ hired by the Pentagon as a management consultant in the 1940s.” Shriver himself came into the Kennedy fold, famously, through marriage to Eunice Kennedy, and served as Joseph Kennedy’s eyes and ears at the Chicago Merchandise Mart for many years, building valuable political contacts in the business community. “Shriver,” writes Stossel, “could be sensitive about his relationship to the Kennedy family” and once snapped at a reporter that his relationship to President Kennedy was “a fact of life, why think about it at all? I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself.” So he was, Stossel writes, steering the sometimes unwilling Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon to do good deeds, though never attaining elective office himself. Throughout it all, Stossel depicts Shriver without a halo, though he contends, with other observers, that Sargent and Eunice Shriver will one day be beatified by the Catholic church.

A careful and capable portrait, of much interest to advocates of activist, beneficent government and students of the Kennedy era alike.

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-58834-127-5

Page Count: 704

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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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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