Though occasionally more generous with detail than is good for narrative momentum, Boyne (The Two O’Clock War, 2000, etc.),...

DAWN OVER KITTY HAWK

A NOVEL OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

The stirring story of the Wright Brothers, plus a colorful supporting cast of high-flyers during the baby-step era of aviation, entertainingly presented—warts and all.

And warts there were. These were men cast in the heroic mold, ferociously determined, some of them brilliant, all of them capable of jaw-dropping acts of small-mindedness, backbiting, bad faith, and out-and-out chicanery as they chased that aeronautical Holy Grail: the solution to the problem of “manned heavier-than-air flight.” Intensely competitive, they shunned collegiality, each desperate to be history’s darling. Any breakthrough by a rival was either minimized or blatantly appropriated. The Wright Brothers, no less driven than the rest, were clearly better behaved. Proprietors of a modestly successful bicycle business, they sort of slid sideways into flying when Wilbur’s avocation—building a motor-driven plane—suddenly flared into a passion. As younger brothers often do, Orville trailed along, but both men began to think of success as a way to escape Bishop Milton Wright (of the United Brethren Church), their bullying, domineering father—the sky a place, perhaps the only place, beyond the reach of his tyranny. In 1900, Wilbur took his embryonic airship to Kitty Hawk for the first time. Three years later, the Flyer, the brothers’ elegant, beautifully crafted plane, stayed up for 57 seconds—under a minute, but it was a flight heard around the world. At a cost of $880, plus living expenses, two young men in their 30s, neither college-educated, had accomplished what no one else had and what most people firmly believed was boys’-magazine fantasy, becoming, almost overnight, international icons.

Though occasionally more generous with detail than is good for narrative momentum, Boyne (The Two O’Clock War, 2000, etc.), does the novelist’s job well—converting the iconic brothers into appealingly quirky humans.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-765-30471-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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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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