The author writes in a conversational, rarely pedantic style, freely quoting authors such as Joann Fletcher and Stacy...

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CLEOPATRA

Not so much a biography of the queen as a basic history of the rise of Rome.

Crime writer and historian Trow (Ripper Hunter: Abberline and the Whitechapel Murders, 2012, etc.) admits that the sources for learning about Cleopatra are few; there are no letters, not even a bit of gossip. The Egyptians were fantastic record keepers, but only for the purpose of knowing their wealth and the tax rolls. The story begins with Alexander the Great clearing the Persians out of Egypt, but the narrative focuses more on his general, Ptolemy, who stole his corpse and founded Alexandria and the 300-year dynasty that ended with Cleopatra. Ptolemy’s Egyptian kingdom was rich and Alexander’s library already world-famous while Romans were still living in mud huts on the Tiber. Cleopatra lived in a civilization where women owned property in their own right, were educated alongside their brothers and ran their own businesses. The expansion of the Roman Empire through the feats of Julius Caesar (as extolled by himself) proves to be a marked contrast to the playboy image that Trow paints of Mark Antony. The two men Cleopatra cleverly persuaded to protect her empire both forfeited their lives for her.

The author writes in a conversational, rarely pedantic style, freely quoting authors such as Joann Fletcher and Stacy Schiff, and the book is a painless primer leading up to the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt Cleopatra film.

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7624-4801-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more