KING OF THE CATS

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ADAM CLAYTON POWELL, JR.

Elegant, energetic biography of controversial Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell (1908-72), by Boston Globe reporter Haygood. This is the story of a pampered minister's son (Powell's father was pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, whose congregation of 15,000 is the country's largest) who, after trying briefly to pass as white at Colgate, became a thunderous spokesman for the nation's blacks. Haygood traces Powell's rise from the fight to reform Harlem Hospital that first brought him notice at age 25 to his role in shaping War on Poverty legislation that brought billions to bear on the nation's poor. But Powell's methods, the author explains, often were questionable: He once threatened to expose an alleged sexual liaison between Martin Luther King, Jr., and a male aide unless the aide called off some picketing that Powell considered inopportune. Powell's tumultuous personal life and financial irregularities opened him to envy, opprobrium, and attack. Loner, gadfly, ombudsman, dandy, debauchee, Powell was both devil and Daniel Webster in the eyes of his colleagues, who voted to deny him his seat in Congress in 1947, a move reversed as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. His ribald exploits and improbable tales—Powell would often retell a joke he'd heard as if it had happened to him—made him a legend of the Harlem Renaissance; his work with LBJ formed a substantive legislative achievement. Haygood tells the story vividly, occasionally giving the warts a force-of-nature gloss. An absorbing and sympathetic account of a highhanded spokesman for the downtrodden. (Twenty-four pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-395-44094-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

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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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