An impressive work of deep research that moves smoothly along biographical as well as legal lines.

THE GREAT DISSENTER

THE STORY OF JOHN MARSHALL HARLAN, AMERICA'S JUDICIAL HERO

A thorough biography of the Supreme Court justice who famously said, “our Constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

Canellos, the former executive editor of Politico, delivers the riveting story of a courageous Kentucky lawyer who initiated significant challenges to anti–civil rights measures during an era of ubiquitous bigotry. John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) is remembered especially by his ringing Supreme Court dissents in three disgraceful cases passed by near unanimity: the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, focused on arbitrary discrimination by establishments; Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which established the “separate but equal” doctrine of Jim Crow segregation in public spaces for the next 60 years; and Lochner v. New York, a setback for labor legislation that would become especially troublesome during the New Deal. In 1876, Harlan was appointed to the Supreme Court by the recently elected president, Rutherford Hayes, who desired a Southerner for the post—though the Great Dissenter would prove to be a decidedly “eccentric” Southerner. Harlan grew up in a family that owned slaves, including his half brother, Robert, who built a successful career for himself as a freed man. Canellos shows how Robert, “horse-racing impresario, gold rush entrepreneur, financier of Black-owned businesses, world traveler, state representative, and leading Black citizen in Ohio,” had a profound impact on his brother. Despite the fact that the final postwar civil rights amendment had been ratified in 1870, by the time Harlan was appointed, the meaning of all of them was still unclear. Harlan was the lone voice insisting that a “legal revolution had been won on the battlefields of Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Manassas.” His dissent “provided the only shred of faith in the system, the only real evidence that America wasn’t completely separating along color lines.” Given the recent heated debates about Supreme Court justices and civil rights legislation, this expert biography is especially timely and significant.

An impressive work of deep research that moves smoothly along biographical as well as legal lines.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8820-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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