Highly readable drama of highborn traitors who enthusiastically aided the Nazi ascent to power.



A character-driven chronicle of the numerous British and American elites who abetted Hitler’s efforts to seize and maintain power.

Many of these names (the Mitford sisters, Sir Oswald Mosley) will be well known to students of fascist history. However, British American biographer Ronald, author of Hitler’s Art Thief, among other books, capably unearths the efforts of dozens of others who helped pave the way for getting Hitler’s “big lie” accepted by so many. The inability to accept Germany’s defeat in World War I and the ramifications of the punitive Treaty of Versailles fed the fantasy that the old order of ruptured aristocracies could be restored. Shady characters with aristocratic ties—e.g., Ernst “Putzi” Sedgwick von Hanfstaengl, a German American businessman and “Nazi English-speaking foreign press service,” and Princess Stephanie zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, a wily spy and monarchist—acted as Hitler’s go-betweens in wooing the British and American upper crust to advocate for the Nazi regime, write favorable stories about Hitler, and infiltrate the embassies. Putzi coached Hitler on his rhetoric, while Princess Stephanie enlisted the favors of Harold Harmsworth, Lord Rothermere, the British press baron, and got Hitler to appoint Joachim von Ribbentrop as head of the German foreign office in England. In this keen study, Ronald emphasizes the shocking extent to which American corporations like Du Pont and General Motors supported the pro-German fascist groups in the U.S., not to mention the behind-the-scenes support of Hitler’s own “alchemists” like I.G. Farben. The biggest-name sympathizers were, of course, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, ultimately exiled by Churchill to govern the Bahamas to keep them out of mischief. Even Martha Dodd, the daughter of William Dodd, the fervently anti-Nazi American ambassador to Germany, was seduced by the Nazi machine, and she went on to become an unrepentant spy.

Highly readable drama of highborn traitors who enthusiastically aided the Nazi ascent to power.

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 9781250276551

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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