Perhaps best known for his popular film biographies and histories, and thus no stranger to tales of scandal and coverup,...

THE WARS OF THE ROOSEVELTS

THE RUTHLESS RISE OF AMERICA'S GREATEST POLITICAL FAMILY

A compulsively readable account of the decadeslong rivalries, grudges, and battles between and within the Roosevelt families of Oyster Bay and Hyde Park.

The most direct link between the two distant clans was Eleanor, daughter of Theodore’s younger, philandering, alcoholic brother Elliot. Pitied by the family for her timidity and homeliness, Eleanor grew up to marry Franklin of the Hyde Park Roosevelts and become the most consequential first lady ever. Mann (Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood, 2014, etc.) sketches the career progress and high achievement of the three Roosevelt titans, but he focuses on the private history and the cost of their unceasing quest for political power to themselves, their spouses, lovers, children, and close friends: how Teddy Roosevelt’s fear of scandal caused him to spurn his brother; how his example, his drive, and ambition distorted the lives of his sons, particularly Ted Jr., whose political career never quite measured up, and Kermit, whose shady business dealings and alcoholism led to suicide; how his troubled bond with daughter Alice led to her own hollow marriage, her thwarted ambition for her brother Ted, and her bitterness at the rise of the usurpers, Franklin and Eleanor. Eleanor’s refusal even to meet her illegitimate brother, Elliot Roosevelt Mann, whose story will be new to most readers, her vexed relations with her mother-in-law and her own children, and her complicated, intimate attachments to female friends all receive Mann’s close attention. He also spotlights FDR’s affairs and the unconventional life of his cousin Jimmy. Kermit’s doomed son, Alice’s affair with Sen. William Borah, Eleanor’s remorseless taunting of cousin Ted—the stories tumble out until no skeleton remains closeted.

Perhaps best known for his popular film biographies and histories, and thus no stranger to tales of scandal and coverup, feuds and intrigue, Mann writes sympathetically about all the Roosevelts but particularly the black sheep, the nonconformists whose births into this powerful family imposed special burdens.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238333-4

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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