Illuminates unexplored corners in the revolutionary history of Latin America and gives a sympathetic but not uncritical view...

FIDEL AND CHE

A REVOLUTIONARY FRIENDSHIP

“I dream of Che a lot. I dream he is alive, in his uniform, I dream that we talk.” So said Fidel Castro, long after his friend and comrade Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s death.

As Reid-Henry (History/Queen Mary, Univ. of London) demonstrates at many points in his debut, Castro and Guevara completed each other. Ironically, both came from wealthy and influential families, the very people they would mount revolutions against. The author notes that Guevara’s father was the grandson of one of the wealthiest men in South America, his mother the descendant of a Spanish viceroy, and Castro’s landlord family was conspicuous in its affluence. Initially, Guevara was the more skilled theoretician, well versed in Marxist theory; Castro took time catching up. In the early days of their friendship, though, dating to the mid-’50s, Castro concocted a kind of revolutionary nationalism that “gave Che the voice, finally, to articulate his own vision of resisting American imperialism.” When Guevara left Cuba to export the revolution in battles around the world, accumulating expertise in guerrilla warfare, he lost his place in the Fidelista hierarchy. This fact has suggested to some historians that Guevara lost favor, but Reid-Henry writes that “a revolutionary partnership is different from most other political double acts,” and shifts in role were not unexpected. Of course, Guevara’s adventures abroad did not turn out well. He was badly defeated in Africa and eventually rooted out and killed in Bolivia, providing that ghost of Castro’s dreams. Reid-Henry writes with circumstantial detail, yielding, among other things, a touching inventory of the things Guevara carried: a photograph of his wife, copies of Marx and Lenin and an inhaler for asthma.

Illuminates unexplored corners in the revolutionary history of Latin America and gives a sympathetic but not uncritical view of a genuine friendship.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1573-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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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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