And as to Vince Foster, and Whitewater, and rumors of Sapphic revels, and vengeful calculation, and overweening ambition?...

A WOMAN IN CHARGE

THE LIFE OF HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

A layered, thoughtful, critical biography of the woman who, at this writing, seems poised to become the 44th president of the United States.

Hillary Clinton, to read between of-Watergate-fame Bernstein’s (Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir, 1991, etc.) lines, is a political cyborg, clinically devoted to remaking her image in order to appear to best political advantage, quick to shed ideology for expedience. Many of those who knew her in the White House, as first lady, consider her intellectually outclassed by her foxy husband, himself no stranger to image-remaking and self-serving expedience; her strengths there lay in organization and hard work, not in dazzling displays of dialectic. Bernstein lays many of her husband’s failures, but not failings, at her door, “not just her botched handling of their health care agenda, or the ethical cloud hovering like a pall over their administration, but so many of the stumbles and falls responsible for sweeping in the Congress led by Newt Gingrich in 1994 and ending the ambitious phase of their presidency.” A vast right-wing conspiracy faces Hillary, to be sure. It always has, beginning with her father, hypercritical and oppressive; happily, Bernstein resists the temptation to practice psychobiography without a license, but the influence on her adult life seems fairly clear even without such commentary. (Welfare reform? Tell it to a father who refused to give her an allowance because she already ate and slept for free.) Bernstein attributes to Clinton, too, a rather grim ethic of salvation through work, and he well documents her essential conservatism and humorlessness; the spice in all that is the thought that it is her job to save her husband from himself, despising his weakness all the while, even as the two formed “a single, intertwined governmental and martial power,” one that may continue after a Bush interregnum.

And as to Vince Foster, and Whitewater, and rumors of Sapphic revels, and vengeful calculation, and overweening ambition? Never fear: They’re all to be found in Bernstein’s revealing, admiring, often surprising book.

Pub Date: June 5, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-40766-6

Page Count: 604

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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 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

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...

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

Did you like this book?

more