Rarely has a journalist’s memoir come together so well, with admirable measures of self-deprecation, transparent pride,...

REPORTER

A MEMOIR

One of the most skilled investigative journalists in American history shares his saga in compelling detail.

Hersh (The Killing of Osama bin Laden, 2016, etc.), who has won seemingly every major literary award and is often portrayed as gruffly relentless, shows his charming side as he recounts his Chicago childhood with a small-businessman father, a quietly supportive mother, and three siblings—a twin brother and twin sisters. A quick learner with a restless curiosity, Hersh began and abandoned several career paths while attending college. He slipped into a low-paying, unglamorous journalism job in Chicago, departed and returned to that career path several times, and then needed to figure out what to do after completing “six months as a grunt in the U.S. Army,” which “was not a transformative experience.” The city boy became a rural journalist in South Dakota, where his reporting initiative led to a book about controversial chemical and biological weapons, freelance investigative exposés about massacres of Vietnamese civilians by American troops (reporting that led to his Pulitzer Prize in 1970), and, in 1972, a position at the New York Times as a reporter with the Washington bureau. Hersh takes readers behind the scenes as he exposes corrupt U.S. foreign policy, Defense Department bumbling in numerous wars, political coverups during Watergate, private sector corporate scandals, and torture tactics used by the U.S. government against alleged terrorists after 9/11. The author shares insightful (and sometimes searing) anecdotes about fellow journalists, presidents and their cronies, military generals, and numerous celebrities. Readers interested in a primer about investigative techniques will find Hersh a generous teacher. He explains why he tends to be a loner, zigging when other journalists are zagging. Hersh discloses little about his wife and children, but otherwise, candor is the driving force in this outstanding book.

Rarely has a journalist’s memoir come together so well, with admirable measures of self-deprecation, transparent pride, readable prose style, and honesty.

Pub Date: June 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-307-26395-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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