A fine account of FDR’s rise to power combined with a cradle-to-grave biography of the man who made it possible.

FRANK AND AL

FDR, AL SMITH, AND THE UNLIKELY ALLIANCE THAT CREATED THE MODERN DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Two giants of 20th-century American politics receive an insightful dual biography.

Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) is no stranger to historians, but Politico senior editor Golway (Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics, 2014, etc.) wisely wraps matters up after he became president in 1933. Until then, fellow New Yorker Al Smith (1873-1944) was better known. Born on the Lower East Side, Smith struggled financially, but he impressed the local Tammany boss, who sent him to Albany in 1904 as assemblyman. Though initially frustrated by bureaucracy, he hid “his frustration behind a mask of good cheer” and became a leading reformer. Wealthy and bored by practicing law, Roosevelt fell in love with politics. Winning a state Senate seat in 1910, he concentrated on national affairs, supporting Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and earning appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Golway dates the “alliance” to the 1920 Democratic presidential convention, when Smith, then the governor of New York, asked Roosevelt to second his nomination. Quiescent for years after his 1921 paralysis, Roosevelt supported Smith for governor in 1922, 1924, and 1926. Running for president in 1928, Smith convinced Roosevelt to run for governor. Roosevelt’s victory immediately made him a contender for 1932. It also ended their alliance. Crushed by his defeat, Smith felt ignored by the new governor. Detesting Roosevelt’s New Deal, he supported Alfred Landon in 1936 and Wendell Willkie in 1940. Historians, Golway included, agree that Smith was the more forthright, unwilling to sacrifice ideals for political gain. Thus, both men hated Prohibition. Roosevelt gets credit for repeal in 1933 when support had weakened, but he waffled when it would lose votes during the 1920s. Smith never wavered, but it cost him.

A fine account of FDR’s rise to power combined with a cradle-to-grave biography of the man who made it possible.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-08964-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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