This is the edition that serious students of the Civil War, and Grant’s role in it, will want. Indispensable.

THE ANNOTATED MEMOIRS OF ULYSSES S. GRANT

A new edition, with thorough commentary, of the memoirs of an American Caesar—and indeed, a book long reckoned to be America’s version of The Gallic Wars.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1855) began his military career without much promise but distinguished himself in combat in the Mexican-American War, where, as he recounts, he came into contact with many of his future opponents in the Civil War. His legendary service in the Western theater of operations, and later as commander of the entire Union Army, led to his election and re-election as president, but all that did not save him from being bilked by a business partner—and thus this memoir, which none other than Mark Twain convinced him to publish to provide for his soon-to-be-widow, since Grant was already ill with cancer. As editor Samet (English/West Point; No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post–9/11 America, 2014, etc.) notes, rumors immediately emerged that Twain had ghostwritten it. In fact, Grant labored endlessly on this massive book, which, writes Samet, “is the artifact that does justice to his achievement as the leader of an army that preserved a nation and emancipated four million people.” Grant’s writing is simple and unadorned, though those who read between the lines will see that he is nothing if not politically astute. His account of the political troubles of William Tecumseh Sherman for offering the same mercies as he had to the vanquished Confederate forces is a model of understatement—though, he adds, “the feeling against Sherman died out very rapidly, and it was not many weeks before he was restored to the fullest confidence of the American people.” If anything, Samet might be criticized, gently, for being too vigorous in annotation; an early disquisition on the French and Indian War, for instance, is orders of magnitude longer than the aside of Grant’s that prompted it, and it begs to be reined in. Nonetheless, for Civil War buffs, this is a must-read.

This is the edition that serious students of the Civil War, and Grant’s role in it, will want. Indispensable.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-244-0

Page Count: 1024

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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