MY LIFE AS A RADICAL LAWYER

In this bafflingly disappointing autobiography, Kunstler, radical lawyer extraordinaire, is once again arguing a difficult case—this time his own. As defense attorney in some of this country's highest profile political courtroom dramas, throughout his astounding career (he's now 75) Kunstler has chosen to champion political causes rather than people—causes that were often very unpopular (he's currently representing Colin Ferguson, charged with murder on the Long Island Railroad). His rallying cry is the defense of the underdog, those he feels are most rejected by society and who therefore risk missing out on that all-American right: a good defense. But his hard-hitting remarks here (written with Isenberg, Women Who Love Men Who Kill, 1991) about the corruption and racism of the American judiciary get drowned in dry, criminally uniformative narrative that belies the passion it is intended to convey. Instead of offering us a unique view of cases involving Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies, Martin Luther King, and others, we get empty apologies for a childhood appreciation of ``Amos 'n' Andy'' and compulsive philandering during his many travels. He intriguingly calls the Kennedys ``dangerous,'' but presents no further explanation, and his criticism of another leftie lawyer, former NAACP director Jack Greenberg (Crusaders in the Courts, p. 363) smacks of petty in- fighting. Kunstler's career has followed the political times: Earlier in his career he considered any situation in which a black man shot a white cop to be a political case; today he finds himself rushing to defend Arabs (i.e., the World Trade Center bombing case). Though he gives an interesting if idiosyncratic introduction to legal politics, Kunstler seems primarily obsessed with his outsider status; he needs to prove that he is hip and sexy despite his briefcase. One would have hoped for more from a man who has stood up for justice in courtrooms often determined to undermine it.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-55972-265-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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