A darkly enlightening tale—thoroughly researched, gracefully written—about Enlightenment thought, male arrogance and the...

HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT WIFE

BRITAIN'S MOST INELIGIBLE BACHELOR AND HIS ENLIGHTENED QUEST TO TRAIN THE IDEAL MATE

The award-winning author of The Knife Man (2005) returns with a true-life, truly bizarre tale set in Georgian England.

Thomas Day (1748–1789) had numerous virtues: He supported the American Revolution, opposed slavery, believed in living meanly to support those in need, abhorred social conventions, and wrote best-selling poetry and children’s books. But as Moore shows us in this often shocking tale, Day was, in contemporary parlance, a creep—a man who took into his keeping two young girls whom he raised in a sort of sick competition to see which one would become his bride. Such behavior today, of course, would land him in prison for a lengthy sojourn, and Moore struggles valiantly to balance her disdain for Day’s soaring arrogance and male entitlement (and cruelty) with her wonder and scholarly disinterest. Day wasn’t a physically prepossessing fellow, but his considerable fortune and earnest manner caused many to overlook his eccentricities. Greatly influenced by Rousseau, Day cast about for a young woman who would meet his exacting spousal standards. Seeing none, he went to a foundling hospital, where he lied to obtain the services of two pre-pubescent girls, whom he named Sabrina and Lucretia. He tutored them, toughened them up with harsh physical training and raised them to be ideal partners for him (his intellectual equals, but also his servants). Day eventually sent Lucretia packing and invested all in Sabrina. It didn’t work out. Both eventually married other partners (and were more or less happy), and Sabrina ended up closely allied with the family of writer Fanny Burney. Her odd story found its way into writings by Burney, Trollope, Henry James and others.

A darkly enlightening tale—thoroughly researched, gracefully written—about Enlightenment thought, male arrogance and the magic of successful matrimony.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0465065745

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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