Twice-told tales of JFK's alleged womanizing and his domination by lecherous, ruthless father Joseph Kennedy. A former admirer of Kennedy, Univ. of Wisconsin history professor Reeves (The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy, 1982; Gentleman Boss, 1975) vents his spleen and disillusionment against the claims of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Theodore Sorensen, and other Camelot chroniclers. In this telling, Joseph Kennedy drilled into Jack and his siblings ``an intense self- centeredness, aggressiveness, and a passionate desire to win at any cost'' that left Jack without the high moral character American Presidents requires for greatness. Although crediting JFK with intelligence, wit, charisma, courage, and forthright defense of free-world principles during the Berlin and Cuban Missile crises, Reeves also criticizes the President for macho posturing and disdain for moral principle in his conduct relating to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the assassination plot against Fidel Castro, the steel price-hike, and civil-rights movement, and deepening involvement in Southeast Asia. Above all, he finds, his former hero ``abused his office for personal self-gratification'' through relentless philandering that exposed him to potential blackmail. Yet most of these instances of the seamy reality behind Camelot can be found in previous works by Joan and Clay Blair, Herbert Permet, and Peter Collier and David Horowitz. Absurdly, Reeves also contradicts his own evidence at times (e.g., claiming that JFK was ``not his father's puppet'' after spending the entire book demonstrating how completely the President accepted his father's political viewpoint and financial largesse). For a truly searing discussion of the character issue, see Garry Wills's The Kennedy Imprisonment (1982), not this superficial treatment focused so exclusively on adultery and the inherited sins of founding father Joe.

Pub Date: May 8, 1991

ISBN: 0-02-925965-7

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?