An astute, often shocking, behind-the-scenes chronicle.



Jimmy Carter’s chief domestic policy adviser tells all.

In 1981, Eizenstat (The Future of the Jews: How Global Forces Are Impacting the Jewish People, Israel, and Its Relationship with the United States, 2012, etc.) began research on a history of the Carter presidency. Drawing on 5,000 pages of his own “detailed, often verbatim” notes; 350 interviews with individuals within and outside of the administration (including Carter, his wife, and Walter Mondale); and copious material from the Carter Presidential Library and many other sources, the author has created a mammoth, authoritative, and comprehensive history of four tumultuous years. A born-again Christian peanut farmer, Carter promised to fight “for the common good against Washington’s entrenched interests.” He disdained politics and had no interest in—or talent for—“buttering up Congressional egos and rallying interest groups and the public” to support his policies. Eizenstat highlights Carter’s many accomplishments: He championed human rights domestically and internationally; reined in Soviet interests in the Persian Gulf and Middle East; doggedly negotiated a peace accord between Israel and Egypt; deregulated crude oil and natural gas prices as well as the transportation industry; pursued an aggressive conservation policy; bailed out New York City and Chrysler from bankruptcy; and oversaw the creation of 10 million new jobs. From the outset, though, Carter’s administration was undermined by mismanagement, astounding ineptitude, and bad luck. He assembled a strong Cabinet but provided no clear guidance on his own goals, and most staff were inexperienced. A micromanager, he drowned himself in details, and he failed to communicate adequately to the press, lawmakers, and the public. He was also beset by divisiveness in Congress and among various constituencies. Domestically, he faced stagflation (high inflation and rising unemployment). In his final year, to the CIA’s surprise, Iran erupted in revolution, resulting in 52 Americans being held hostage in the U.S. Embassy. Eizenstat enlivens his chronicle with deft portraits of a huge cast of characters, including a headstrong 29-year-old pollster who became “almost like Rasputin” to Carter.

An astute, often shocking, behind-the-scenes chronicle.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10455-7

Page Count: 992

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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 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...


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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