TO END ALL WARS

WOODROW WILSON AND THE QUEST FOR A NEW WORLD ORDER

Fresh analysis of Wilson, his times, and the evolution of his international position; by Knock (History/Southern Methodist Univ.). With never an extra word, Knock creates a sense of the creative ferment, innocence, and scale of a still-young America that brought into being such vigorous visionaries as Teddy Roosevelt, Eugene Debs, and John Reed. He shows a thoughtful Wilson, confident in his intellectual capacities, unafraid in the company of socialists and radicals, aware that new ideas would be needed to solve new problems. But Knock's Wilson isn't an original thinker: ``The salient ideas...he derived from other groups and individuals'' and ``the broad concept [of the League of Nations]...had long been espoused by a disparate constellation....'' Nor was Wilson quick to grasp realpolitik. His (and America's) isolation and lack of historical instinct are clear as he conducts WW I press conferences that simply ignore the incredible slaughter in Europe in the belief that we can remain uninvolved. Knock traces a pattern of Christian virtue, moral conviction, and idealism that made Wilson into a national hero who could address the (primarily Republican) League to Enforce Peace to thundering applause; and he shows how these same qualities— combined with lack of experience in international affairs and negotiations—would eventually undo Wilson. The American leader's reliance on his advisor Edward Mandell House's intrigues and optimistically inaccurate reports here figure in the failure of the President's Pan American Pact (a kind of model for the League of Nations), and suggest how this pattern of wishful thinking about human and national motivations would lead to similar results at Versailles. Sharp, succinct, and expert. (Twelve halftones—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-19-507501-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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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 MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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