Certain to please true-crime and legal-thriller aficionados.



A penetrating examination of the personal tragedy that befell a lawyer defending Jimmy Hoffa.

Tabac (Law/Cleveland State Univ.; The Insanity Defense and the Mad Murderess of Shaker Heights, 2018) unearths a previously untold story. Combining court transcripts, newspaper accounts, books about other figures, and interviews, he reconstructs the little-known life, dramatic career, and untimely death of Zeno Thomas Osborn Jr. In 1962, the Nashville lawyer won Baker v. Carr, the landmark Supreme Court case that established “one man, one vote.” In 1964, Osborn represented Hoffa, the Teamsters boss best remembered for disappearing in 1975 following decades of headlines involving organized crime and federal prosecutions. Tabac places Osborn in the context of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s protracted war with Hoffa and tracks down surviving veterans of its cloak-and-dagger skirmishes. He recounts his own successful 2009 effort to unseal grand jury testimony from the jury tampering trial that destroyed Osborn and reprints the damning transcript of a trickster’s secret recording. He paints Osborn not as a crooked lawyer corrupted by cash but a man who made the mistake of becoming Hoffa’s friend and loyalist. Tabac deftly calibrates his tone as the narrative shifts from Osborn’s Supreme Court victory to the seamy jury tampering episode, borrowing language from soft-boiled fiction: “Partin had clammed up before the grand jurors.” Short chapters maintain a lively pace, and the storytelling is authoritative and tantalizing. Given how vividly Tabac describes private meetings, conversations, and motives, other historians might wish to judge whether he has embellished or misinterpreted sources. His documentation won’t help much; the author provides a bibliography but no footnotes or endnotes. Some in-line references are available books, articles, or transcripts. Many are simply told “to the author.” Nevertheless, he displays balance and objectivity. As historical scholarship, this account may not quite please purists, but Tabac deserves credit for rescuing a forgotten slice of legal history and capturing its inherent drama and enduring lessons.

Certain to please true-crime and legal-thriller aficionados.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4671-3804-8

Page Count: 168

Publisher: The History Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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 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...


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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