RICHARD TAYLOR

SOLDIER PRINCE OF DIXIE

From rare-book dealer Parrish, an engaging and exhaustively researched biography of an important and intriguing, though rarely studied, Confederate leader. Had he accomplished nothing in the Civil War, Richard Taylor would still have been historically noteworthy: Gifted problem-son of Zachary Taylor and brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis, he graduated from Yale in 1845 at age 19 and acquired great wealth at his father's death in 1850. As heir to the fabulous plantation of Fashion, Taylor became one of Louisiana's most prominent planters and slaveholders (and, thanks to his consequent involvement in local politics, one of the state's leading political figures). Parrish depicts Taylor as highly intelligent, cultivated, and enlightened, sensitive to the moral dilemmas of slavery and humane and paternalistic toward his many slaves. According to the author, Taylor decried slavery as a moral evil—but not evil enough, apparently, for him to manumit his own slaves. Taylor disapproved of the radical rhetoric of the secessionist ``fire-eaters,'' but, like many Southern planters, he was radicalized by John Brown's abortive raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Though his father was a Whig President, and he himself nurtured pro-Union sentiments, Taylor gradually allowed himself to be drawn (albeit, Parrish indicates, with great reluctance) into the secessionist fringe of the Democratic Party at the fractious 1860 Charleston convention. After Louisiana's secession (which he voted in favor of), Taylor entered Confederate service as a colonel of the Louisiana Brigade and achieved distinction as a commander under Stonewall Jackson in the legendary Valley campaign in 1862. Transferred to Louisiana to repel the Federal offensive there, he succeeded in 1864 in stopping General Banks's Red River Campaign. After the war, Taylor became a leading advocate of states' rights and finished Destruction and Reconstruction, one of the most distinguished Civil War memoirs, shortly before his death in 1879. A thorough and significant contribution to Civil War scholarship.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 1992

ISBN: 0-8078-2032-6

Page Count: 570

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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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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