MILTON S. EISENHOWER, EDUCATIONAL STATESMAN

A showcase, in effect, for the attractive personality and deep-held convictions of octogenarian Milton Eisenhower—with little of the zest, acumen, or substantive interest of his memoir The President Is Calling. On the basis that Eisenhower dealt there with his public life, Ambrose and Immerman concentrate on his career in higher education—as president of Kansas State, Penn State, and Johns Hopkins—an area in which they're admittedly not expert. (Immerman also collaborated with Ambrose on Ike's Spies.) Exuding fondness for their subject, they adhere closely to the homespun Eisenhower family image in which he believes (more so, indeed, than Ambrose's latest biography of Dwight Eisenhower, above); yet they term some of his ideas "simplistic"—and two pages later, quote from a thoughtful, Étude-by-Étude Eisenhower appreciation of Chopin. His individuality, in short, eludes them. And even in this truncated account, the early years—Kansas newspapering, meteoric rise in the Agriculture Dept., FDR confidant and aide—most repay the reading: at least things happen. Ambrose and Immerman do try, reiteratively, to develop some themes: Eisenhower's preference for "an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary approach"; his reliance on subordinates; his bent toward "conciliation" (and distaste for confrontation); his warmth, hospitality, outreach (toward students especially)—and his "extreme sensitivity to criticism" (the reason, plausibly, he stayed out of politics). Treating of Eisenhower the higher-educator, they produce only a patchwork of achievements (artificially balanced with the criticisms of detractors). Eisenhower, we're told, liberalized the curriculum and internationalized the student body at "cow college" Kansas State; rid Penn State of its inferiority complex and turned it into a real university; twice put Johns Hopkins on its financial feet—while preserving its small/elite tradition. Everywhere he excelled at legislative lobbying and general fund-raising, and instituted citizenship programs; usually he was admired, and got his way. (In a loyalty-oath crisis at Penn State, however, he looks less than a shining light.) The concluding chapters expand on his current distress with the US (he's fervently for gun control) and his active, good-humored aging. Some future biographer will be grateful for the authors' interview-materials—for present readers, they've been used too earnestly and unimaginatively.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1983

ISBN: 0801892678

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1983

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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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