Three members of the Rockefeller family steal the show in this breezy volume: John D., founder of the Rockefeller fortune who, by penny-pinching, luck, financial brilliance, ruthlessness and Standard Oil, made himself in his prime, in 1913, worth nine hundred million dollars; his son John D. II, at 84 still known as "Junior," inheritor with his brothers of vast riches, part founder and chief administrator of the vast Rockefeller philanthropies, a shy, humorous man who has won the admiration of labor; his son Nelson, politician, philanthropist, sportsman, Governor of the State of New York and potential presidential candidate. Of other Rockefellers there are many in the book, all overshadowed by John D.: Big Bill, his father, a raffish cancer-doctor, his pious mother and his equally pious wife, his sons, daughter, grandsons and their wives and families. A remarkable clan, unimpressed by their wealth, they collect art, endow institutions, dislike blatant show, farm and hunt in many countries and through the Rockefeller Foundation send help to the ends of the earth; through Nelson they are dissolving the family sedateness and forgetting the family dislike of publicity. Sometimes repetitious but always readable, this study of one of America's great families is peculiarly timely in view of Nelson's political importance; the book should have a nation-wide appeal and find readers political and non-political, intelligent readers interested in good biography and the social applications of wealth.

Pub Date: June 8, 1959


Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1959

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?