Rarely has an author of such deep faith offered such a tolerant, engaging history of any religion.

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PROTESTANTS

THE FAITH THAT MADE THE MODERN WORLD

A learned, lively look at the various faiths lumped together as Protestant, from Martin Luther in the 16th century to today.

Theologian and professor Ryrie (History of Christianity/Durham Univ.; Being Protestant in Reformation Britain, 2013, etc.) takes an inclusive view of the term Protestantism, encompassing mainstream Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists as well as the less-pervasive Unitarians, Seventh-day Adventists, Quakers, Mennonites, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the burgeoning varieties of Pentecostal denominations whose members often speak in tongues. (The author classes Mormons as a new religion despite their Protestant roots.) Ryrie views the spectrum as an extended family tree with a common trunk but diverse branches. At bottom, though, a family that quarrels about right and wrong remains a family. The author credits Protestants with playing significant roles in the spread of free speech and the placement of conscience ahead of government dictates throughout Europe and across what eventually became the United States. In more recent times, Ryrie documents the influence of Protestants in portions of South America, China, South Korea, and South Africa. He does not shy away from the ugly roles of Protestants in the dominance of apartheid and slavery, but he explains how the better natures of Protestants opposing those inhumane practices mostly prevailed. Throughout the sweeping narrative, the author offers his well-considered opinions about how the Bible fits into the teachings of various Protestant denominations. He offers insightful explanations of why some Protestants consider the Bible inerrant, while other Protestants consider it filled with contradictory stories that nonetheless lead to a deep communion with God. In the final chapter, Ryrie deals candidly with contemporary political and social issues roiling Protestant denominations, including women in the ministry, homosexuality, whether to support the legalization of abortion, and how to combat secularism.

Rarely has an author of such deep faith offered such a tolerant, engaging history of any religion.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-02616-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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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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