JIHAD VS. McWORLD

HOW THE PLANET IS BOTH FALLING APART AND COMING TOGETHER--AND WHAT THIS MEANS FOR DEMOCRACY

Political scientist Barber (Rutgers; An Aristocracy of Everyone, 1992, etc.) grandly divides the planet into no more and no less than two camps to explain the present universal, sorry mess. The only hope, he says, is democracy, and between the equally malign forces of Jihad and McWorld, the odds for it aren't too good. According to the professor's realpolitik, McWorld means not merely worldwide fast food but all capitalist buccaneering, global marketeering, cyberspace, megamergers, and international corporate incest aimed at nothing but profit. The Japanese motor in your Swiss camera might be made in China and sold by a British ad agency. Borders mean nothing in McWorld; the sun never sets on its flag. Movies, TV, and theme parks like EuroDisney and the local mall are all. Fighting for hegemony, probably without ultimate success according to Barber, is international Jihad. By Jihad he means not merely Hamas or Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Add neo-Nazis, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, unregulated militia members, and the balkanization of the Balkans. Fundamentalism and nationalism, often drawing sustenanance from imaginary history, are in impassioned battle with infotainment and merchandising. The struggle is not impeded by any government or international agreement. Earth looks like a political Rubik's cube. Jihad receives bomb-making instructions on the Internet. McWorld sells designer jeans to Palestinian and Israeli alike. The paradox hardly enhances the freedom of the individual, and democracy suffers under either banner. And yet, declares Barber, democracy is our only viable choice. The bifurcation of the global village may seem simplistic, but assuredly the dialectic is not. The author's range is, perforce, universal. Certainly he is no optimistic Toffler, Fukuyama, or Pangloss. His concern for the public weal is patent; his impassioned argument is provocative and portentous. This is a generally erudite, copiously detailed synthesis, a polemic long on problems and short on solutions. It's not fast-food reading; it's serious food for thought.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8129-2350-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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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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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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