The R T Hon Lord is once more at large. We can only hope he reamains “on the out,” never to serve again.

HEAVEN

A PRISON DIARY, VOLUME 3

Prisoner number FF8282 completes his jailhouse trilogy (A Prison Diary, 2003, Purgatory, 2004).

Following the pattern of earlier incarcerated writers such as Cervantes, Raleigh, Wilde and Hitler, Archer is now out and free. In this final volume, the diary of the former member of the House of Lords shows him captive for most of the time in a minimum security facility, a place Her Majesty’s Prisoners (HMP) never “escape” from, though they may, sometimes, “abscond.” A feature of the open prison, for those deserving, is town leave. Even then, though, there’s still the stultifying bureaucracy he finds so tedious as the days pass and inmates come and go. Drug testing is a signal event, while noise and naughty language still offend his ever helpful lordship, still noble despite the inequities heaped upon him. He signs a “Change of Labour Request” as “The R T Hon The Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare,” and the request is denied. Archer spends time editing and reediting another potboiler (Sons of Fortune, 2003) and hosting a Sunday tea club for older felons. He gets a sinecure as hospital orderly but is still beleaguered by a hostile press and spying inmates. Home Secretary David Blunkett remains deaf to his entreaties, and Mr. Justice Potts, who sentenced him (for perjury), continues to embody unbridled malevolence. Wife Mary remains stalwart, however, and Archer continues to appreciate good art, particularly a modern illustration for The Wind in the Willows depicting Toad in jail. Withal, he must endure “the prisoner’s biggest enemy, boredom,” a sensation of which he manages to convey quite effectively. Thus his “tariff” passes, from day 89 (15 October 2001) through day 457 (18 October 2002), when Archer, put back into a more secure prison, abandons his journal until day 725 (21 July 2003), when he’s released.

The R T Hon Lord is once more at large. We can only hope he reamains “on the out,” never to serve again.

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-34217-9

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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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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