An excellent chronicle of JFK’s innovations, his true personality, and how close he came to losing.

THE ROAD TO CAMELOT

INSIDE JFK'S FIVE-YEAR CAMPAIGN

Accepting the challenge that Theodore White laid out in The Making of the President 1960: to “tell the story of the quest for power in 1960 in more precise terms with a greater wealth of established fact.”

In this successful acceptance of White’s challenge, Pulitzer Prize–winning Boston Globe journalist Oliphant (Utter Incompetents: Ego and Ideology in the Age of Bush, 2007, etc.) and former Globe foreign correspondent Wilkie (Journalism/Univ. of Mississippi; The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer, 2010) begin before John F. Kennedy’s run to be Adlai Stevenson’s running mate in 1956. Although popular opinion claims that JFK’s father directed his decisions and campaigns, JFK was always in charge and not afraid to oppose or ignore his father. He surrounded himself with shrewd advisers whose philosophy was brash and very successful. Most importantly to his later success, JFK started early. Then he bypassed the party bosses and labor unions and set up representatives in small towns to build support and lists of contacts. He and his team knew how to work the grass-roots strategy, giving tea parties for women, circulating petitions, and, most importantly, using TV ads. One of the first to closely monitor public opinion, JFK was handsome and popular, and the press loved his quotable accessibility. However, he was no shoo-in. His record in the Senate was weak, and his meek responses to Joe McCarthy worked against him. Race and religion were major undercurrents throughout the race, and the lead flipped back and forth multiple times. White was spot-on in his prediction of the availability of new information. Oliphant and Wilkie mined a wealth of fresh material to show how Kennedy approached his campaign in innovative ways. The authors impressively navigate all the new information to present a compelling story, easily shifting geographically and supplying background vital to understanding the whole picture.

An excellent chronicle of JFK’s innovations, his true personality, and how close he came to losing.

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0556-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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