A well-researched, crisply written, and entertaining story of family, greed, wealth, and the complex relations among them.

THE BETTENCOURT AFFAIR

THE WORLD'S RICHEST WOMAN AND THE SCANDAL THAT ROCKED PARIS

A juicy chronicle of France’s richest scandal.

As the daughter of L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller, Liliane Bettencourt (b. 1922) is the wealthiest woman in the world—wealthy enough, in fact, to have lost nearly 25 million euros in Bernie Madoff’s scheme. While former Time Paris bureau chief Sancton (Song for My Fathers, 2010, etc.) tells the story of Bettencourt’s daughter’s suit against Liliane’s dear friend François-Marie Banier, he also provides an eye-opening look into the French judicial system. Based on Napoleonic code, it is a system that seems made to delay final decisions as cases wend their ways through the different court systems. Françoise Meyers brought the case against Banier for abus de faiblesse, or exploitation of weakness, in 2007, just after the onset of Liliane’s mental confusion. Françoise was a talented author and musician but never pleased Liliane. Her mother, nearly deaf, enjoyed Banier’s company and was uncharacteristically generous to him. She financed his artistic activities and gave him real estate and financial contracts for millions, not to mention the occasional check for 100,000 or 200,000 euros. Her gifts were extremely lavish, by some estimates totaling over 1 billion euros, considerable for a woman well known as a penny pincher. Banier was already a successful artist and photographer when he met Liliane, but he was also an abused child always searching for a replacement mother. What he gave her was liberation from the formal life she led. He was handsome, quirky, and a great conversationalist. Her husband, André, was warned about her gifts, but he decreed that it was her money to do with as she pleased, a stance that echoed the attitudes of her financial advisers and notary at first. André served in successive governments, due for the most part not to talent but to small brown envelopes handed to candidates.

A well-researched, crisply written, and entertaining story of family, greed, wealth, and the complex relations among them.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98447-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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