That project continues, of course, in different hands all these years after Nixon’s coverup of a coverup. No one who reads...

ONE MAN AGAINST THE WORLD

THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD NIXON

Sobering, eye-opening study of Richard Nixon’s booze-soaked, paranoid White House years and the endless tragedies they wrought.

“The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy.” So said Nixon, who never minded making room for one more name on his fabled—though very real—enemies list. It speaks volumes about Nixon that there is still more to learn about him, 40-plus years after Watergate. It speaks further volumes that what we are learning is even worse than what we knew: John Dean’s The Nixon Defense (2014) just scratches the surface. Enter Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Weiner (American Studies/Princeton Univ.; Enemies: A History of the FBI, 2012, etc.), who is particularly interested in Nixon’s fraught efforts to disengage from Vietnam while not appearing to abandon an American ally. “Why not give this up?” asked Chinese leader Zhou Enlai, who encouraged Nixon to get out, promising that if the war were to continue, China would be honor-bound to help its communist neighbor. Alas, writes the author, Nixon and the ever sycophantic Henry Kissinger could never figure out how to pull that off. Weiner’s findings, drawing on the entirety of Nixon’s secret tapes and other documents, are certainly newsworthy: Nixon, for instance, busily selling ambassadorships, wanted to dismantle not just the State Department, but effectively the whole of the government, filling its ranks with loyalists. So bent was he on this that he put into motion a plan to have his entire Cabinet resign the day after the election, with the next step to “rebrand the Republican Party in coalition with conservative Democrats, create what he called a New Majority to last until the end of the twentieth century, and destroy the remnants of LBJ’s Great Society once and for all.”

That project continues, of course, in different hands all these years after Nixon’s coverup of a coverup. No one who reads this incisive book will be nostalgic for Nixon, no matter how disastrous his successors.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-083-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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