Largely airbrushed family portrait, with warts shown mainly on the face of a prejudiced society. (Two 16-page b&w photo...

READ REVIEW

THE KENNEDYS

AMERICA’S EMERALD KINGS: A FIVE-GENERATION HISTORY OF THE ULTIMATE IRISH-CATHOLIC FAMILY

A hefty, well-documented, glowing account of the Kennedys as prime examples of the Irish-Catholic experience in America.

For this five-generation history of the clan from the mid-19th century to the present day, Newsday journalist and biographer Maier (Newhouse, 1996, etc.) makes extensive use of patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy’s personal papers; interviews and correspondence with family and friends in both the US and Ireland round out the picture. Much of the saga is already familiar, but Maier takes particular interest in the Kennedys’ religious and ethnic background, how it influenced their thinking and their actions. He paints a vivid picture of the anti-Irish, anti-Catholic sentiment that faced immigrants with brogues, and he shows how the first American-born Kennedy, P.J., used his position as a tavern owner to become ward boss in his Irish immigrant community. The account becomes increasingly detailed as it shifts to P.J.’s son Joseph. Rather than focusing on how the patriarch became wealthy, Maier looks at how he used his wealth and power behind the scenes in the Catholic Church. Among Joseph’s children, the author is most interested in Jack’s use of his Irish-Catholic background early in his political career and his struggles against anti-Catholic bias in the 1960 presidential campaign. Maier also examines how JFK’s presidency affected perceptions of the Church by outsiders, and especially how his background shaped his positions on civil rights, immigration, and the war on communism. Later he looks at Robert’s appeal to other ethnic minorities, including Latinos and blacks, and to the efforts of Ted and Jean to bring peace to Northern Ireland. In the next generation, Maier finds that it is often the women (e.g., Caroline Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend) who have assumed the role of “Irish chieftain,” those traditional clan leaders of old who inspired and led their people.

Largely airbrushed family portrait, with warts shown mainly on the face of a prejudiced society. (Two 16-page b&w photo inserts, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-465-04317-8

Page Count: 600

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more