Found in a cupboard and published last year in France, these "lost" love letters follow upon Deirdre Bair's magnificent Simone de Beauvoir (1990) with revelations about the author of The Second Sex and the exact nature of her extraordinary relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre. This passionate, intriguing correspondence (finely translated by Hoare) begins in 1930, when Beauvoir is 21. The bulk Beauvoir writes almost daily from Paris during WW II, when Sartre is in the army and then a prisoner. (The streets, she writes, are "beautiful and sinister after 11—almost deserted, save for constant police patrols, on foot or bicycle, with big capes and gleaming helmets.") Here, in perhaps her most authentic voice, Beauvoir presents herself to Sartre as a devoted lover, desperate for his letters, calling him "my life's own self." Along with quotidian facts of money, classes, and cafes, of reading Dead Souls or watching a James Cagney movie, come wonderful observations—"There are tiny memories which tear at my heart...whereas I'm left quite unmoved by the big, serious things"; or, "belief and desire are really one and the same." What is bound to stir debate is Beauvoir's breathtaking honesty with Sartre about her "contingent" relationships and the fact that, to the end of her life, she gave to the public but a partial and polished view of these affairs. In particular, Beauvoir describes her ongoing emotional and physical involvement—every intrigue and skirmish—with three former students who were also lovers of Sartre. ("But what barren nourishment—all these people who aren't you!") The passion and openness persist in letters written from America (1947-51), where, through the "wire lattice-work" of the Brooklyn Bridge, she sees "red sky" and "gulls on the water," or questions her affair with Nelson Algren ("was it my own sadness that made him gloomy that first month?"). Essential reading for anyone wanting to fathom this still towering, contradictory, revolutionary feminist, what she wrote, and what she made of her life.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-55970-153-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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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 19, 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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