A concise, thoughtful, and well-researched biography.



A distinguished Dutch biographer’s account of the life of Allene Tew (1872-1955), who rose from middle-class obscurity to become one of America’s first socialites.

Born in Janesville, Wisconsin, but raised in Jamestown, New York, Tew was the only child of a bank clerk with rich relatives. Her free-spirited ways and taste for “pleasure [and] adventure” distinguished Tew from other girls of her time. At 18, she became involved with Tod Hostetter, the son of nouveau riche millionaire parents from Pittsburgh. Tew became pregnant out of wedlock and then married Hostetter, who she later discovered was addicted to gambling. She became a widow for the first time by age 30 and married again two years later, this time to a New York stockbroker named Morton Nichols. During their five-year marriage she earned a reputation as a “fantastic, inexhaustible organizer of…charity benefits.” By 1909, Tew was again independent and a major figure in New York society. She remarried in 1912, this time to a wealthy, self-made engineer named Anson Wood Burchard, whom van der Zijl characterizes as the one man out of the five she married who “genuinely loved her for herself.” Their marriage represented the happiest and saddest times in her life: During the time they were together, Tew lost both her children and her parents before losing Burchard in 1927. She went to Europe, where she scandalized American high society by marrying a German prince named Henrich Reuss, divorcing him, then marrying a Russian count 12 years her junior named Pavel Kotzbue. Now part of the European aristocracy, she helped broker what at first seemed an unlikely marriage between Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and a man of obscure aristocratic origin. Set against the tumultuous history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this biography is certainly entertaining, but it is also a fascinating story about a remarkable woman’s indomitable spirit and will to survive.

A concise, thoughtful, and well-researched biography.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5183-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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