A vividly rendered account of life in office, with plenty of beneficial pointers to aspiring politicos on either side of the...

A JOURNEY

MY POLITICAL LIFE

Long-awaited, uncommonly candid memoir by the former British prime minister.

Politics isn’t needed to liberate people, Blair writes; it’s the other way around. “An odd thing for a politician to say,” he admits, “but then…it has never been entirely clear whether the journey I have taken is one of the triumph of the person over the politics, or of the politics over the person.” Regardless, Blair is a political animal to the core. There are few personal details here, in the manner of Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004), Clinton being one of Blair’s heroes. There are, however, plenty of personal opinions about the people with whom he has served, from his successor Gordon Brown (who might still have his job “had he pursued New Labour policy”) to George W. Bush, who, the author insists, is anything but stupid—though his political intuition “wasn’t expressed analytically or intellectually.” Blair is famously both analytical and intellectual, and he provides a careful rationale for having bought the weapons of mass destruction canard and committed British troops to Iraq—it boils down mostly to the argument that Saddam was a bad guy and needed to go, or “the region needed a fundamental reordering.” The region got that reordering, of course, which was one of the causes of Blair’s being invited to leave office by the ungrateful electorate of Britain, for which the author seems to have a touch of impatience, if not thinly veiled contempt: “We were like two people standing either side of a thick pane of glass trying to have a conversation.” Blair concludes with an argument for further reordering, including the West becoming closer to China and the European Union’s “adopting a common energy policy,” among other things.

A vividly rendered account of life in office, with plenty of beneficial pointers to aspiring politicos on either side of the Atlantic.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-26983-6

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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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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