Through soothing rhythms and repetition, Johnston recreates the ancient storytelling tradition of the Ojibway Indians. The word manitou has usually been translated to mean simply ``spirit,'' but according to Johnston, the term connotes mystery, mysticism, godliness, and the essence of things. Manitous are also the supernatural beings of the Anishinaubae, ``the good men and people'' of the Ojibway, Ottowa, Pottawatomi, and Algonquin tribes. Johnston here tells the stories of these beings, and his tales are buoyed up with commentary so skillfully interwoven with the narrative that the reader is unconsciously instructed in the history and method behind them. He includes traditional creation and flood myths; the stories of Nana'b'oozoo, the prototypical human being; the origin tales of corn, birch, flint, and tobacco; and much more. These stories are meant not only to answer questions about the world, but to teach valuable life lessons. In the beautiful tale of the spruce tree, a young woman is married off against her will to an old man. At first she is despondent, but after many years she begins to appreciate her husband's goodness and finally to love him. When he dies she keeps a vigil at his grave until she too dies, and from their joint grave grows a tree that rains a light mist, said to be the tears shed by the young wife over her beloved husband. This story teaches respect for elders, the value of kindness, the unpredictable nature of love; others show respect for nature, for animals, and for the wisdom of the elders. In the last story of Nana'b'oozoo, he is seen sadly leaving his people, unremarked and unmourned, a symbol of the Indians' lost heritage. With his writing and storytelling, Johnston hopes to summon Nana'b'oozoo back. An extraordinary glimpse into a rich and meaningful mythology. (15 line drawings)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-017199-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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