Twain admirers will find this volume indispensable and will eagerly await the third volume.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, VOLUME 2

THE COMPLETE AND AUTHORITATIVE EDITION

In which the great American author, aided by his scholarly editors, continues to spin out a great yarn covering his long life.

In the year of his birth, writes Twain, John Marshall, the noted jurist and chief justice of the Supreme Court, died. A collection was taken up among lawyers to erect a statue to him, but then “a prodigious new event of some kind or other suddenly absorbed the whole nation and drove the matter of the monument out of everybody’s mind.” The money sat in a bank account for half a century collecting interest, and suddenly, in 1883 or so, it was rediscovered and used to build the memorial that now stands in the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. The statue is a material fact, but it is Twain’s storytelling that makes it come alive. Having written despairingly of the human race, and especially of its more murderous representatives, such as Belgium’s King Leopold, he takes the rare fact of honest politicians and fiduciaries as a tonic: “It takes the bitter taste out of my mouth to recall that beautiful incident.” Twain emerges as an unflinching social critic with a long list of targets, including the robber barons of his day and imperialist militarists like Leonard Wood. Yet, in this most personal of works, Twain also reserves plenty of spite for miscreant publishers: “Webster kept back a book of mine, ‘A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur,’ as long as he could, and finally published it so surreptitiously that it took two or three years to find out that there was any such book.” Twain is, as ever, a sharply honed and contrarian wit, as quick to lampoon himself as anyone else. He is also capable of Whitmanesque flights: “I am,” he declares, “the entire human race compacted together”—for better and for worse.

Twain admirers will find this volume indispensable and will eagerly await the third volume.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-520-27278-1

Page Count: 736

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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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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