Still, though Marcus may not always bring history to life, she offers a compelling glimpse into an undeniably fascinating...

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THE VIEW FROM NEBO

HOW ARCHAEOLOGY IS REWRITING THE BIBLE AND RESHAPING THE MIDDLE EAST

Wall Street Journal Foreign correspondent Marcus offers a dry but ultimately fascinating look at how modern archaeologists and their recent discoveries at key biblical sites are reshaping traditional views of the Bible, as well as the entire map of the Middle East.

Over the years archaeologists have studied biblical texts, historical finds, and ancient records recovered at sites throughout the Middle East, and on this basis they have created an accepted structure of Israel’s history. But recently, exciting new discoveries at sites such as Meggido, Jerusalem, and Hazor have led scholars to question the very foundations of these long-held beliefs. Scientific advances in the past 50 years have refocused archaeological surveys away from biblical historicity to a more general investigation of the culture of the entire Middle East, and have brought astonishing new theories to light. For example, the origin of food prohibitions through the study of pig remains has now led to the belief that the Jewish dietary laws were not unique within the cultures of the Middle East: in fact, virtually no one in the region was eating pork during the biblical period. Another theory currently contested is that Israelite slaves built the pyramids—rather than skilled craftsmen and seasonal laborers, as many archaeologists now believe. Marcus’s careful research and extensive interviews provide an excellent base for the exploration of these theories, but she often assumes the reader’s familiarity with biblical narrative and history. And, although a historical timeline is provided at the beginning of the book, those who may have forgotten who begat whom will find moments when the text becomes confusing, dense, and lifeless.

Still, though Marcus may not always bring history to life, she offers a compelling glimpse into an undeniably fascinating topic. (Map of ancient Israel and its environs, not seen) (Reader’s Subscription Book Club/Natural Science Book Club alternate selection)

Pub Date: April 14, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-56167-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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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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An informative, nostalgic evocation of a special urban dining experience.

THE DAIRY RESTAURANT

An account of once-popular New York restaurants that had a rich social and cultural history.

“Since, by choice or historical necessity, exile and travel were defining aspects of Jewish life, somewhere a Jew was always eating out,” observes cartoonist and MacArthur fellow Katchor (Illustration/Parsons, the New School; Hand-Drying in America, 2013, etc.) in his exhaustively researched, entertaining, and profusely illustrated history of Jewish dining preferences and practices. The Garden of Eden, he notes wryly, was “the first private eating place open to the public,” serving as a model for all the restaurants that came after: cafes, cafeterias, buffets, milk halls, lunch counters, diners, delicatessens, and, especially, dairy restaurants, a favorite destination among New York Jews, which Katchor remembers from his wanderings around the city as a young adult. Dairy restaurants, because they served no meat, attracted diners who observed kosher laws; many boasted a long menu that included items such as mushroom cutlet, blintzes, broiled fish, vegetarian liver, and fried eggplant steak. Attracted by the homey appearance and “forlorn” atmosphere of these restaurants, Katchor set out to uncover their history, engaging in years of “aimless reading in the libraries of New York and on the pages of the internet,” where he found menus, memoirs, telephone directories, newspaper ads, fiction, and food histories that fill the pages of his book with colorful anecdotes, trivia, and food lore. Although dairy restaurants were popular with Jewish immigrants, their advent in the U.S. predated immigrants’ demand for Eastern European meatless dishes. The milk hall, often located in parks, resorts, or spas, gained popularity throughout 19th-century Europe. Franz Kafka, for example, treated himself to a glass of sour milk from a milk pavilion after a day in a Prague park. Jews were not alone in embracing vegetarianism. In Europe and America, shunning meat was inspired by several causes, including utopian socialism, which sought to distance itself from “the beef-eating aristocracy”; ethical preferences; and health concerns. A meatless diet relieved digestive problems, many sufferers found.

An informative, nostalgic evocation of a special urban dining experience.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8052-4219-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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