With freelance writer Samuel, the former prime minister of Israel describes the context in which he developed his political views but reveals little new about himself. The gruff and taciturn Shamir was considered an interim prime minister after Menachem Begin stunned Israel with his sudden resignation in 1983; but Shamir survived attacks from within his own Likud party and from the opposition Labor Party for nine years. By the time voters finally forced him from office in 1992, Shamir was described as one of the best players ever in the rough-and- tumble of Israeli politics. In this autobiography, we learn a great deal about Shamir's staunch right-wing politics and the reasons his government spent billions solidifying the Israeli hold over the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. We learn far less about Shamir the man, who uses his life story as a polemic. He draws lessons in support of hard-line Zionist militancy from his youth in Poland; from his family's murder by the Nazis; and from his years as an operative in the most violent wing of the Mandate- era anti-British Jewish underground and, later, as an agent in the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. This is not a kind book. Shamir criticizes fellow rightists who don't share his views, and he characterizes his lifelong fight with opponents to the left as a ``dispute between those who believed in the immediate gain and were...willing to settle for the least and those who believed that they were responsible to future generations and hold out for the most.'' He remains closed-mouthed about his clandestine years, only justifying in some detail his already-known involvement in two celebrated political murders of the 1940s: of Britain's Lord Moyne and the UN's Count Bernadotte. A useful tool for opponents of the land-for-peace policies of the current Israeli government, but less useful to students of Israeli history or of Yitzhak Shamir.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 1994

ISBN: 0-316-96825-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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 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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