Dense for general readers but an excellent scholarly read encompassing new ideas for Lewis devotees or those interested in...

C.S. LEWIS: A LIFE

ECCENTRIC GENIUS, RELUCTANT PROPHET

Christian theologian McGrath (Theology and Ministry/King’s College London; Mere Apologetics, 2012, etc.) dissects the life of C.S. Lewis 50 years after the author’s death, focusing on how his life was impacted by theology and vice versa.

In this chronological account, McGrath splits Lewis’ life into sections, beginning with childhood and then moving through his many years at Oxford, his time at Cambridge, and then his death and posthumous popularity. An entire section is also devoted to the Chronicles of Narnia and its religious meaning, conception and popularity. Based almost completely on Lewis’ letters, the biography is rich with information but short on the sort of anecdotes that make author biographies so colorful. McGrath focuses mainly on Lewis’ religious development, with a secondary theme of the relationships that affected his work. This concentration on Lewis’ role in apologetics may be due to the fact that McGrath himself is an apologist and finds common ground with Lewis in this area. While this focus may be useful for Lewis scholars and die-hard fans, it feels narrow for a literary biography. McGrath is clearly a huge fan of his subject; while he doesn’t shy away from criticism of the man’s life or work, he does downplay it. For instance, in discussing Lewis’ Space Trilogy, McGrath states, “The quality of these is somewhat uneven, with the third being particularly difficult in places. Yet the main thing to appreciate is not so much their plots and points, but the medium through which they are expressed—stories, which captivate the imagination and open the mind to an alternative way of thinking.” This is characteristic of McGrath’s attitude throughout the book. While not necessarily a problem, it wears thin in some places where more support is needed to make a truly sound argument.

Dense for general readers but an excellent scholarly read encompassing new ideas for Lewis devotees or those interested in religious argument.

Pub Date: March 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1414339351

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Tyndale House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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