An exhaustively researched, skillfully written joint biography of Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera, whose contrasting legacies shaped the history of 20th-century Ireland. Collins was a brilliant guerrilla leader who deployed selective assassination and deft counterintelligence to cripple Britain’s colonial administration of Ireland. So successful was Collins at rendering Ireland ungovernable that in 1922 British Prime Minister Lloyd George was compelled to seek a negotiated withdrawal. Collins was a realist: His token participation in the failed Easter Rising of 1916 taught him that idealists made the worst wartime leaders. His lifelong contempt for politicians contributed to his eventual break with de Valera. While Collins was mercurial, quick-minded, and gregarious, de Valera was methodical, slow- moving, and introspective. Irish historian Dwyer argues convincingly that the Collins—de Valera split was as much personal as political. Both men were ambitious and often unscrupulous in attaining their goals. De Valera, elected president of Ireland, feared Collins’s popularity and control of the army; Collins considered de Valera an untrustworthy demagogue. When de Valera ordered Collins to negotiate a peace treaty with Britain, a job for which he was particularly ill-suited, Collins suspected a trap. “To me the task is a loathsome one,” said Collins. “If I go, I go in the spirit of a soldier who acts against his judgment at the orders of a superior officer.” When an exhausted Collins returned from London with a peace treaty, de Valera attacked it as pro-British and implied that Collins had betrayed Ireland. Collins defended the treaty as a first step to full independence. The debate over the Anglo-Irish treaty triggered a bloody civil war, during which Collins was killed by anti-treaty forces. De Valera would remain president of Ireland for most of the next 50 years. An essential book for anyone interested in understanding the personal and political dynamics behind the fateful Collins—de Valera rift. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: March 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-21919-9

Page Count: 395

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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