Those lucky enough to have lived and attended school in Europe will love this book, and anyone heading to Paris will surely...

FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU

AN AMERICAN BOY IN FRANCE

The author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (2001) returns with another celebration of France.

Carhart (Across the Endless River, 2009) was 4 when his family moved to Fontainebleau in 1954. His father was a staff officer for the headquarters of NATO command, housed in the Château de Fontainebleau. The author and his four siblings were enrolled in French schools, where they had to learn the language quickly. Carhart alternates chapters explaining the 900-year history of the chateau with delightful tales of France in the 1950s. Having returned to live in Paris as an adult, he has been lucky to meet the architect in charge of preserving Fontainebleau. The architect has shown him the attics and gutted remains, explaining the additions and changes of the various occupants, including Marie and Catherine de Medici and Napoleon III. He convincingly argues for his preference for the history-rich chateau over the more popular Versailles. Just as interesting are the stories of children’s games played at school and Sunday excursions to Paris. In the city, they explored parks and museums while their father went to his fencing matches. The family lived in a large home with an acre of garden, sufficient household help, and, most importantly, wine delivered to the back door every few weeks. Camping was a cheaper vacation for a family of seven, but spending an entire day setting up their large, nonwaterproof tent took most of the fun out of it. Carhart relates how their father thought nothing of driving on two-lane highways and narrow mountain roads in their giant American station wagon, without a sign of a guardrail. As the author tells it, everything was a lovely adventure.

Those lucky enough to have lived and attended school in Europe will love this book, and anyone heading to Paris will surely add Fontainebleau to his or her schedule.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42880-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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