DAVID ROBERTS' EGYPT

ENHANCED VERSION

An e-book version of a coffee-table book.

Roberts, a Scottish artist of the 19th century, made his living and fame rendering sights in exotic locales as sketches and paintings that would be collected as lithographs in books. Much like the National Geographic of their day, his books gave readers a vicarious journey around the globe. This e-book presents a wealth of his Egyptian lithographs depicting mostly the sites of famous ruins—Luxor, Dendera, Karnak, Giza—as well as landscapes and cityscapes up and down the Nile, from Alexandria and into Nubia and Abyssinia. As thumbnails, some seem to be photographs, so exacting was Roberts’ technique. But this format enables readers to pinch and pull open the art to inspect the high-resolution scans in great detail. Doing so reveals the precision of the artist’s hand and his subtle and fine sense of color. The art is by far the most engaging element of the book. The text, based on letters and journal entries, is much less interesting (though well read by Simon Prebble). Those based on letters to his daughter have greater detail than the journal entries, many of which merely count the number of sketches undertaken that day. But even the letters remain mostly on the surface, categorizing movements of the day, sights seen, comforts and discomforts of the road, meals taken, plans for the next day—much like any ordinary tourist’s. Fittingly, Robert’s favorite adjective in his writings is “picturesque.” Best to let his art speak for him.

 

Pub Date: March 29, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Sideways Inc.

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

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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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