A boosterish rendering of a potent head of state.

THEODORE REX

In a sequel to the Pulitzer-winning biography of Teddy Roosevelt’s earlier years (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, 1979), Morris celebrates his tenure in the Oval Office, lauding him as the most popular and energetic chief executive of the early modern era.

Morris views Roosevelt as the next great president to succeed Lincoln. While his predecessor, William McKinley, represented dour 19th-century values, Roosevelt was more akin to the industrialization that was turning the US into a global power. He was a dynamic reformer who acted first and asked questions later. The author runs through the many irons Roosevelt always had in the fire, using each to show how his personal magnetism, political canniness, intelligence, and force of will earned him a bevy of successes and almost no significant defeats. On the domestic front, Teddy mastered the art of the end run around his political enemies, disarming orthodox Republicans by arguing that they support his trust-busting initiatives or else face the chaos of labor uprisings and quieting labor by throwing them bones designed to least infuriate management. In foreign relations, his personal magnetism and Navy-enlarging policies earned him, and the country, the respect of the great powers. He fended off German encroachments on Venezuela, ensured that the Panama Canal became a reality, and negotiated peace between Russia and Japan. Morris also devotes much attention to Roosevelt’s physical exploits, which later influenced his conservation efforts. He was constantly climbing in Rock Creek Park, swimming nude in the Potomac, and boxing or practicing martial arts with members of his cabinet. To blow off steam he hunted, often in the South, where he was seen as too friendly toward African-Americans. Because Democrats receive little attention here, one wonders how Morris might have rendered their criticisms.

A boosterish rendering of a potent head of state.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2001

ISBN: 0-394-55509-0

Page Count: 864

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2001

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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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