Even with her memory gaps, no reader will feel McDougal got what she deserved, or that the grand-jury process can be...

THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN’T TALK

The trials of Whitewater defendant McDougal, a sorry case who isn’t afraid to admit it but never deserved the treatment dished out by Kenneth Starr’s janissaries.

Nothing ever came of Whitewater, that distressing example of politically partisan venality, except the 18-month incarceration of McDougal, who refused to testify before the Office of the Independent Counsel. Here she endeavors to put her role in Whitewater—if so minor a part in such a non-event can be called a role—within the context of her life. This includes being the wife of Jim McDougal, a manic-depressive whose delusions included paranoia and a taste for grandiosity; and it also includes her tendency to “surrender control to stronger personalities,” namely to Jim but also to Nancy Mehta, wife of Zubin Mehta, portrayed here as a scary eccentric who accused McDougal of credit card fraud. McDougal’s version of things is buoyed by her acquittal of any charges beyond refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Starr grand jury. She freely admits not just to incompetence but to a measure of reckless disregard concerning her own financial matters, as well as to a weakness for histrionics. But her tale is also salted with comments like “To this day I still don’t know the answer to that question” (why a single loan broke the bank she and her husband started) or “To this day, I have no idea what that check was for” (a check to Bill Clinton with the memo “Payoff Clinton”), which is hard not to regard as convenient ignorance. Most forcefully presented are her reasons for refusing to testify: the twisting of her words that could easily result in perjury, the overdue need to assert some control over her life, and her contempt for Starr’s motivations.

Even with her memory gaps, no reader will feel McDougal got what she deserved, or that the grand-jury process can be anything less than the rotten apple in the legal barrel.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2003

ISBN: 0-7867-1128-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more