A brief biography of the turn-of-the-century anarchist once considered the “most dangerous woman in the world.”

Gornick (The Men in My Life, 2008, etc.) aptly condenses the life story of the fiery radical and presents a vivid snapshot of Gilded Age liberal activism. Born in 1869 in the Russian city of Kovno, Goldman immigrated to America with her sister in 1885 and landed in the wretched sweatshops of Rochester, N.Y. Goldman soon became enamored of the local hordes of social agitators, and she was captivated by the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. Moving to Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Goldman fell in with a group of liberals, including the anarchist Alexander Berkman and newspaper editor Johann Most, who launched her speaking career. These were heady times for radicals both domestically and abroad. The American Socialist Party numbered more than 100,000 members in the first decade of the 20th century, and “Red Emma’s” fervid lectures were regularly attended by thousands. When Goldman was deported in 1919, she landed right in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution (and quickly became an early critic of the Bolsheviks). The idiosyncratic Goldman often ended up on the wrong side of history—e.g., she was a proponent of birth control but no friend to suffragists, and she remained obsessed with Spanish Civil War refugees when the rest of the world was turning its attention to Hitler and the Jews. But her undying belief that the personal is political would make her an important figure in radical politics more than a century after her birth. Such a slim volume necessarily glosses over details that would dramatize Goldman’s larger-than-life persona, but Gornick lucidly presents her subject’s significance within a fascinating historical moment.


Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-300-13726-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


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

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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

Did you like this book?