These letters by novelist (The Fountainhead, not reviewed, etc.), political thinker, and all-around, self-described ``intellectual egotist'' Rand (190582) prove oddly revealing of their peculiar, indomitable author. Berliner, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, has done an admirable job of assembling and editing Rand's letters (though her correspondents' replies are mostly absent); his commentary seems quite judicious, as well. These letters maintain a uniformly strident tone. Whether advancing her career through flattery and opportunism by writing to Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Lloyd Wright, and other notables, or advancing an ersatz philosophy—``Objectivism''—constructed out of anti-communist bromides and specious ratiocination, Rand crafts bracing prose. Most letters concern business in New York and Hollywood, the struggle against ``collectivism,'' and the maintenance of a growing group of fans. Rand often appears almost comically heartless. ``Altruism is the curse of the world,'' she aphorizes early on. Of aesthetic matters she seems insensible. Would-be writers receive banal exhortations to focus on plot and character, and reflections on her novels make them sound more one-dimensional than they are. A steady undercurrent of real pathos flows through this book, however: Rand describes the necessity to exercise self-censorship when writing letters (since lost) to her family, who were suffering tragically under dictatorship in her native Russia. If Rand developed her own authoritarianism, she did so in protective reaction to Stalinism. In her old age, she turns down an opportunity to write on the theme ``the childhood day I will always remember,'' because, she writes, ``what I regard as significant are certain trends and intellectual developments in my childhood, but not single days or events.'' Such chilling passages suggest that the terror which robbed her of her childhood and her family blighted her sensibility as well. Objectivists will find much reinforcement in this volume; more objective readers may find it truly depressing.

Pub Date: June 12, 1995

ISBN: 0-525-93946-6

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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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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