Henry eventually assumed control of his realm, but it was too little, too late. Tudor fans will enjoy this outside-in...

HENRY VIII

AND THE MEN WHO MADE HIM

Bringing to light the dangers of life in the service of Henry VIII.

As Borman (Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, 2016, etc.), England’s joint chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces and chief executive of the Heritage Education Trust, shows, Henry was a complex figure: fiercely loyal, treacherously fickle, short-tempered, demanding, and self-absorbed. Ascending the throne at a young age, he had little time for the duties of a king and was more inclined to frolicking with friends and leaving official affairs to ministers. The first of these was Thomas Wolsey, a cardinal and ambitious genius with a flexible conscience. As with many of Henry’s favorites, Wolsey was also low-born. He encouraged Henry’s extravagant lifestyle and easily manipulated the foolish youngster. Wolsey lasted through the annulment crisis and marriage to Anne Boleyn, but he was the first of many to fall. Then, Thomas Cromwell stepped in and used his considerable legal talents to secure Henry’s will. Afterward, it was Anne who engineered a divide between Cromwell and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer over the dissolution of the monasteries. Eventually, Cromwell dominated both the political and spiritual affairs of the king. Thomas More was another highly intelligent servant to the king, but he could not support the king’s “great matter” of succession and was beheaded. Cranmer was one of the few who supported the king in all his whims and demands, generally keeping his own council. He was one of the few who survived the king’s whims only to die on Queen Mary’s orders. Henry’s penchant to favor the low-born reflected his ever increasing paranoia. They would never have an eye on seizing the crown, so Henry favored ability over nobility, and the noble-born worked tirelessly to undermine those favorites. Borman skillfully shows Henry maneuvering his men like chess pieces; when they opposed him, they suffered violent downfalls.

Henry eventually assumed control of his realm, but it was too little, too late. Tudor fans will enjoy this outside-in biography as a different view of a complicated monarch.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2843-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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