An edifying, uncluttered, and enjoyable picture of life in Regency England.

DEFIANCE

THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF LADY ANNE BARNARD

An exhaustive biography of a clever, convivial Regency woman who was “dangerously unconventional, a character too colourful for propriety.”

In an age of enlightenment, upheaval, and revolution, Lady Anne Lindsay (1750-1825) was a prolific letter writer and a dedicated chronicler of current events. Taylor (Commander: The Life and Exploits of Britain's Greatest Frigate Captain, 2012, etc.) sifted through mountains of material at her family’s Scottish home, including her multivolume memoir. Anne charmed all who met her, and it’s easy to see how, with her upbringing in Scotland amid one of Britain’s greatest literary collections, the Bibliotheca Lindesiana. Her broad education was the product of that collection, as she and her sister read voraciously. She met the age’s most eminent thinkers, including David Hume, Alison Cockburn, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Edmund Burke. After moving to London, she found intelligent stimulation greater even than Edinburgh but without the small-town constraints. She was labeled a coquette because she was unconventional, preferring to befriend men rather than marry them. Her letters and journals are detailed, if somewhat prolix, but they give a wonderful picture of her times. She met London’s literati and politicians through her sister’s husband, who was a banker and gambler—never a good mix. It was his short selling that brought down his bank and caused one of the biggest financial crises of the century. Of all the men who wooed her, William Windham and Henry Dundas, both destined for high office, played the largest parts. When she finally married Irishman Andrew Barnard, it was Dundas who found him a position at the new colony in South Africa. Their years there were idyllic until her husband’s death, and she ably chronicled and drew the scenery and people. At the same time, she used her talents as a hostess to win over the defeated Dutch and to entertain passengers stopping on their way to India.

An edifying, uncluttered, and enjoyable picture of life in Regency England.

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-24817-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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