A revealing, though at times overly detailed, portrait.



A passionate defender of the poor and oppressed receives a full-length biography.

Poet, essayist, and editor Lola Ridge (1873-1941), born in Ireland, raised in New Zealand, and educated in Australia, made her mark in the United States beginning in 1907, when she became part of a burgeoning arts scene in San Francisco, and most significantly in New York, where she was a major literary figure. Svoboda (Tin God, 2013, etc.), a poet, fiction writer, translator, and Guggenheim Fellow, revives Ridge’s life in minute—sometimes fascinating, sometimes tedious—detail. Possibly because she was denied access to archival sources, Svoboda speculates about Ridge’s motivations, thinking, and assumptions: “perhaps,” “could have,” and “might have” recur so often that they become distracting. Although providing context is one of the author’s strengths, at times she overdoes it. For example, while recounting the time when Ridge deposited her 8-year-old son in an orphanage, where he remained for six years, Svoboda offers many examples of others who abandoned their children. Ridge’s admiration for Percy Bysshe Shelley generates a list of other admirers, including Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, George Bernard Shaw, and Upton Sinclair. Ridge suffered from “an illness similar to T.B.,” leading Svoboda to note a handful of others in her circle who “spent enormous amounts of time in bed.” More relevant are capsule biographies of everyone Ridge knew: her friends Marianne Moore, novelists Evelyn Scott and Kay Boyle, activists Margaret Sanger and Emma Goldman; Harold Loeb, who assigned Ridge as American editor of his literary magazine Broom; Jean Toomer, Robert McAlmon, Matthew Josephson, and scores more. Svoboda’s close reading of Ridge’s poetry supports Boyle’s assessment that Ridge “expressed a fiery awareness of social injustice” in “a woman’s savage voice.” Anorexic, living in self-imposed poverty, uncompromising, and strong-willed, Ridge merged the political and the literary as she helped to shape modernist aesthetics.

A revealing, though at times overly detailed, portrait.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936182-96-1

Page Count: 648

Publisher: Schaffner Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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