A well-written, guilt-free treat for devoted royal family-watchers—whose numbers are, of course, legion.

THE QUEEN & DI

THE UNTOLD STORY

A surprisingly fresh addition to the mountain of biographies of the late Princess of Wales—this one focusing on her relations with the Queen.

Seward, a longtime correspondent on matters royal and editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine (and, as it happens, the last journalist to interview Di), has obvious sympathy for the Princess. But she has greater sympathy, it would seem, for the long-suffering Queen Elizabeth II, who came to power in the shadow of scandal, worked for decades to give England a ruler of whom it could be proud—or, at least, not ashamed—and then had to endure the public posturings of her eldest son's petulant, bulimic, and generally uncooperative bride. (To her credit, as the author ably demonstrates, Di was nowhere near as awful as Fergie, who fueled Fleet Street tabloids with her self-serving antics.) Contending with Di (who emerges in these pages as both a confused, troubled soul and an extremely shrewd, self-aware schemer) could not have been very pleasant for the Queen, who was sometimes distant but even shrewder than her daughter-in-law (and, to gauge by Seward's account, a font of patience). Even so, the Queen seems to have acquired a little more humanity in grappling with Di's all-too-human troubles, “excusing her indiscretions, making allowance for her illness, overlooking her outbursts, taking note of her grievances, ignoring the way she tried to claim center stage,” and their 15-year-long association had tangible effects on the way the royal family conducts itself today (its budget downsized, for example, by a populist government that took Di's side in the long struggle for power that only ended with her death in 1997).

A well-written, guilt-free treat for devoted royal family-watchers—whose numbers are, of course, legion.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55970-561-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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