Much eloquent—often lyrical—evidence that the author deserved his Nobel Prize.

PERSONAL WRITINGS

A collection of brief, piercing personal pieces by the 1957 Nobel laureate.

In a selection of essays from the 1930s to the 1950s, Camus (1913-1960) reveals himself to readers, discussing his affections, regrets, memories, problems, complaints, and ideas about art and writing. He writes frequently about his youth in Algeria (where he was born), and in a particularly poignant piece near the end, he revisits Tipasa (Tipaza), Roman ruins not far from where he grew up. He notes that “returning to places of youth” can be “a great folly,” but he clearly demonstrates otherwise in this essay. The author also writes incisively about war (both world wars), the meanings of cemeteries, the sea and sun and rain and the desert, and youth and age: “No longer to be listened to: that’s the terrible thing about being old…condemned to silence and loneliness.” Throughout are numerous classical allusions (to historical figures and events, to mythology); there’s a particularly fine piece about Prometheus and his sacrifices for humanity. “If Prometheus were to reappear,” he writes, “modern man would treat him as the gods did long ago: they would nail him to a rock, in the name of the very humanism he was the first to symbolize.” Camus sometimes chides the human race, but he sees hope in us, as well. Although he writes quite a bit about Algeria, he also describes some experiences elsewhere in the world (Paris, New York), and he sets the final essay aboard a trans-Atlantic ship. He discourses about the weather, the sailors, and the enormity of it all: “We sail across spaces so vast they seem unending.” What will strike many readers is the author’s extraordinarily evocative language, his astonishing facility to create memorable phrases and take readers to places most have never been but who, because of his artistry, feel immediately at home.

Much eloquent—often lyrical—evidence that the author deserved his Nobel Prize.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-56721-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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?

more