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Overlong and overly impressionistic breast-beating from one of the elder statesmen of the American bar with help from Mayer (The Greatest Ever Bank Robbery, 1990). How profound can reader response be to a book that conludes: ``The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves''? Linowitz, former US ambassador and currently senior partner of a noted ``white shoe'' law firm, gave a lawyer-thumping speech at Cornell Law School's centenary celebration. Apparently aided and abetted by several Supreme Court justices who sent admiring notes about the speech, he has here elongated it into a book-length treatment about the decline of standards in the legal profession. His major complaint is that too many lawyers, faced with increased competition and the drive for personal profit, have abdicated their independence—i.e., they are ``afraid to say no'' to clients. This might make a hard-hitting op-ed piece despite the confusing title (``betrayed'' by whom?), but the argument peters out when blown up to over 200 pages, largely on the strength of material that seems more anecdotal than evidentiary. The book has its stranger moments, as when Linowitz lionizes old-line titans like Paul Cravath for their courage to defy their clients while admitting that the doors of the law firms run by Cravath and his peers were shut to Linowitz as a young lawyer because of his ethnic origins. Too often Linowitz's valid reflections (e.g., on the unhealthy change from a long-term lawyer/client relationship to one-shot transaction work) nestle uncomfortably next to pointless or confusing stories (``An ever-increasing number of people no longer admire doctors''). Linowitz's ``solutions''—greater independence, more pro bono work- -are worthy but not exactly cutting-edge stuff. While aware of the temptation to glorify the ``good old days,'' Linowitz is not too successful in avoiding that trap: he complains of the ``forced retirement of senior partners `who had the wisdom and leisure to serve as mentors.' '' A real ho-hum.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-684-19416-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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