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

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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