Adapted from articles, interviews, and lectures from the 1960s and '70s, this is a provocative collection on Israeli society by one of the country's foremost novelists. In his lyrical prose, Oz (Fima, 1993, etc.) ponders such issues as Jewish identity, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the concept of a Zionist homeland. In his lengthy 1967 piece on ``the meaning of homeland,'' Oz defines a Jew as anyone who publicly acknowledges his or her Jewishness. Religious law alone, Oz contends, should not be the defining factor. A Jew, he argues, is someone who relates to the Jewish past and shares the fate of the Jewish present—whether voluntarily or by force. Oz perceives the annihilation of European Jewry as ``the logical outcome of the ancient status of the Jew in Western civilization.'' For thousands of years, he writes, the Diaspora Jew was ``an archetype in the dungeons of the Christian soul,'' making Auschwitz, not assimilation, the Jew's inevitable destiny. Zionism, Oz argues, is the sole option for a Jew who does not wish to exist merely as a ``symbol in the consciousness'' of strangers. And since the ancestral homeland of Israel has remained in the hearts and prayers of Jews for millennia, it was the logical locus of their quest for normalcy. Since Oz is not religious, however, his Zionism is more complex. He writes, ``I am a Zionist in all that concerns the redemption of the Jews, but not when it comes to the `redemption of the Holy Land.' '' He sees the Palestinian conflict as a struggle of ``right and right'' between two peoples with valid historical claims and grievances. He abhors the tendency of the Israeli right wing to deny the Palestinians' legitimacy, and he provides insights into Arab fears of the ``Satanic power of Zionism.'' Whether these musings touch upon the kibbutz, Israeli literature, or his early years in Jerusalem, Oz captivates the reader with his elegantly poetic voice.

Pub Date: April 26, 1995

ISBN: 0-521-44367-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Cambridge Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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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 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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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