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JOURNEY OF THE ADOPTED SELF

A QUEST FOR WHOLENESS

An useful though biased and histrionic account of the adopted person's struggle to form ``an authentic sense of self.'' Lifton (Lost and Found, 1979; Twice Born, 1975) continues to explore the struggles and journeys of adopted people. When she was seven, Lifton was informed by her mother that she was adopted. ``I was not to share it with anyone—not even my father. It would break his heart if he suspected I knew.'' Lifton projects her own sense of trauma onto all adoptees. Anecdotes and statistics supplement her thesis that all adoptees are emotionally scarred, doomed to a lifelong ``quest for wholeness.'' Even when discussing international and biracial adoptions, in which everything is out in the open, Lifton focuses only on the negative, despite the great number of successful adoptions that have been documented. She dismisses any adoptee, birth mother, or adoptive parent who disputes her thesis as being ``in denial,'' arguing that an adoptee can best be healed through a reunion with his or her birth parents. But too many of the reunions recounted here weaken her thesis that ``the very idea of search is empowering, no matter what the outcome.'' For instance, in a chapter entitled ``The Mark of Oedipus,'' Lifton reports on some reunions that lapsed into incestuous relationships. Lifton too glibly portrays adoptive parents as insecure, overprotective, traumatized by their infertility, and threatened by their child's search for birth parents. Her opposition to adoptions cloaked in secrecy is valid (though she's hardly alone in that view). But her ascribing of all an adoptee's insecurities and emotional difficulties to the fact of having been adopted—rather than to the human condition—is simple reductionism. Lifton provides valuable resources for adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Ultimately, though, the book is imbalanced and unconvincing, despite its passion.

Pub Date: April 27, 1994

ISBN: 0-465-00811-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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