A worthy entry to the literature devoted to the Regency.

GEORGE IV

INSPIRATION OF THE REGENCY

An unflattering portrait of the early-19th-century British monarch.

George, son of the Hanoverian king George III, was “witty, foppish and extravagant,” devoting his considerable energies to affairs of the bedroom rather than to affairs of state, firmly convinced of his brilliance and infallibility—and, royal-watcher Parissien writes, perhaps not a little loony, the victim of the porphyritic illness that had stricken his father (and inspired Alan Bennett’s play The Madness of King George). For his troubles, writes Parissien (Paul Mellon Center for the Study of British Art/Yale Univ.), George IV earned a place as “the most caricatured monarch in British history.” Satirists had much to work with: George was fond of second-tier Northern European art; collected castles and palaces, spending whole fortunes on restoring and redecorating them; liked to dress up in military garb and, furthermore, believed himself to have been present at battles against Napoleon when he in fact had been safe at home. Though his faults may have been forgivable and, considering the history of the British monarchy, not so terrible, George’s biggest offense may have been to believe his own press and to have offended English sensibilities with “blatant self-promotion.” Mostly he emerges from Parissien’s pages as clueless, not evil; readers may themselves be forgiven for extending to the poor man a few sympathies, especially after seeing how the likes of Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and even Jane Austen rebuffed his offers of patronage (in exchange, one assumes, for a few nice words said about him). Despite his own sympathetic approach, Parissien closes by observing, “George merely succeeded in rendering the monarchy increasingly superfluous to the process of government and the life of the nation.”

A worthy entry to the literature devoted to the Regency.

Pub Date: April 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-312-28402-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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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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