A fresh perspective on a president whose style, legacy, and politics continue to inspire discussions about freedom and...

JFK AND THE MASCULINE MYSTIQUE

SEX AND POWER ON THE NEW FRONTIER

A focused cultural analysis of John F. Kennedy’s “manly ethos.”

Watts (History/Univ. of Missouri; Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America, 2013, etc.) probes the masculine allure JFK represented and how it changed a nation’s impression of what a man and a political leader should embody. The author shows how, amid the “high-flying spirit of the New Frontier,” this idolized, charismatic leader navigated his personal and political lives. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, male society experienced what was considered a postwar “crisis of masculinity” due to modern workplace bureaucracies and “increasingly angry feminists,” both of which inspired a backlash in which a “cultural crusade for masculine regeneration” began to swell. Effervescently young, handsome, and idealistic, JFK came to symbolize this movement. Perhaps the book’s most compelling viewpoints are formed from the astute attention paid to the interconnectedness of the “Kennedy Circle.” This stylish, influential collective consisted not of political advisers but rather prominent male celebrities who, in one form or another, through behavior or appearance, exuded and thus promoted the touchstones of an undeniably masculine aesthetic: physical attractiveness, youth, vigor, bravado, and unbridled, unrepentant virility. Particularly provocative are chapters featuring Norman Mailer, Frank Sinatra, Hugh Hefner, Kirk Douglas, and Tony Curtis. The author also examines the consequential fallout from the president’s 1963 assassination, as the country mourned the demise of their iconic leader and the modern embodiment of political leadership thus changed. A tad overanalyzed but consistently bolstered by solid research and convincing arguments, the book conjoins its subject’s two most memorable images—the private “tireless sexual adventurer” and the responsible, citizen-centered politician—and reconciles them both into a dignitary who, for better or worse, created indelible change for America.

A fresh perspective on a president whose style, legacy, and politics continue to inspire discussions about freedom and leadership values.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-04998-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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