THE LAST LION

WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL: ALONE, 1932-1940

The second volume in Manchester's masterly three-part biography (Visions of Glory, 1874-1932; 1983) of Winston Churchill, which now limns as well as lionizes the aging Tory during his political exile. Sympathetically portrayed here as "the last of England's great Victorian statesmen" for his staunch defense of the empire and its values, Churchill did not beweep his outcast state. Though a parliamentary backbencher without ministerial portfolio, the sometime insider managed to stay remarkably well informed on Germany's secret rearmament and its territorial ambitions throughout the 1930's. Churchill spoke out forcefully in the House of Commons and wrote scores of articles against Hitler and the Nazi threat. Until the eleventh hour, though, he was a prophet largely without honor in his own country—and party. With anguished memories of the nation's WW I losses, the ruling Conservatives made appeasement a keystone of British foreign policy. But, while devoting detailed attention to where and how Churchill's contemporaries went wrong, Manchester does not overlook his subject's faults. For instance, Churchill's preparedness campaign suffered a serious setback when —with more loyalty than judgment—he espoused the cause of Edward VIII during the abdication crisis. Nor can Churchill's relationships with his children—notably, Randolph and Sarah—be deemed much of a success. On balance, of course, there were decidedly more credits than debits to his account during the gathering storm, and he became the moral equivalent of a consensus choice for Prime Minister after the onset of WW II. Manchester closes on a triumphant note: the May 19, 1940, radio address in which Churchill enjoined the British to brace for battle and "their finest hour." An eloquent and evenhanded appreciation. The text includes photographs (not seen).

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1988

ISBN: 0385313314

Page Count: 800

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1988

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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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