A short, but complete look at the long adieu that moved the newly united states spiritually and politically.

GENERAL WASHINGTON’S CHRISTMAS FAREWELL

A MOUNT VERNON HOMECOMING, 1783

Skillful and prolific pop historian Weintraub (Charlotte and Lionel, 2003, etc.) accompanies The Father of His Country for a few months at the end of 1783.

The revolutionary war Washington had successfully prosecuted against all odds was over. The Treaty of Peace had been negotiated, and fair copies were under sail from England. Redcoats were leaving America. Hessians were deserting before they could be shipped home. The Great Man’s public service appeared to be at an end, and Washington happily prepared to return his commander’s commission to Congress. He simply wanted to get home to Martha at Mount Vernon in time for Christmas. In most histories, where General Washington slept on the trip is, understandably, not treated in great detail. Weintraub (Arts and Humanities Emeritus/Penn State) supplies that detail in abundance. From New York, where the formidable general movingly bade farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern (the best known episode of the journey home) to the village of Princeton, then a week in Philadelphia and on to Baltimore and Annapolis before he reached the Potomac and home, the hero was lauded and feted all the way. Balls, dinners, fireworks,and speeches of tribute all testified to the universal veneration for America’s chief citizen. In reply to the encomia, his faithful speechwriter scribbled away, though his Excellency (as Washington was habitually addressed) seemed more than equal to the task. The general sought only to lay his sword aside to become “a private Citizen on the Banks of the Potomack,” and he was hailed as a latter-day Cincinnatus who, after securing his nation’s independence, wanted simply to return to his farm. That he disdained all mention of a crown may be Washington’s greatest gift to what he hoped would become a respectable member of the family of nations. How he became a majestic Chief Executive is another story.

A short, but complete look at the long adieu that moved the newly united states spiritually and politically.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-4654-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

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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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