UNCROWNED KING

THE LIFE OF PRINCE ALBERT

A distinguished biographer of Queen Victoria demonstrates the political importance of her beloved husband. From the time of his marriage to Victoria in 1840 until his untimely death in 1861, Albert of Saxe-Coburg was never wholeheartedly accepted by the people of England. He always spoke German in private, and his public speeches were delivered in heavily accented English. A figure of fun in satirical periodicals such as Punch, he never received the civil or military honors that Victoria wanted for him. Weintraub (Disraeli, 1993; Victoria: An Intimate Biography, 1987; etc.) makes clear how much she adored him, how Albert bolstered her self-confidence, and how important their relationship was to the maintenance of the monarchy in the 19th century. Albert never usurped Victoria's role as monarch, but he took advantage of her repeated pregnancies, and of partisan shifts between Whig and Tory, to become acting monarch on occasion, and the most important adviser to the monarch on every occasion. A public figure who carved out a role as a promoter of science, technology, and educational reform, he achieved a public relations coup through his sponsorship of the famous Great Exhibition of 1851, a symbol of Britain's position as the world's dominant industrial nation. Albert's importance was underlined by Victoria's response after his death, when she put the monarchy in danger by virtually retiring from public life for nearly a decade. While establishing Albert's importance, Weintraub provides illuminating details of the private life and daily routine of the royal couple. Their strong physical attraction for each other and their mutual enthusiasm for eroticism in painting and sculpture were combined with a sincere commitment to higher moral standards at court and in public. While providing a window into the private lives of 19th- century royalty, Weintraub also makes a critical historical point about the adaptation of the monarchy to the demands of a more democratic age.

Pub Date: June 9, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-83486-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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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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