A powerfully detailed method of dealing with life’s pains and injustices.

BECOMING OKAY WHEN YOU’RE NOT OKAY

HOW TO DECREASE SUFFERING BY DEVELOPING ACCEPTANCE AND COMPASSION

A comprehensive breakdown of the ways in which people subvert and sabotage their own happiness.

Bushman begins his nonfiction debut by defining his terms, specifically warning readers that when he writes about “acceptance,” he’s not talking about resignation, indifference, or any other species of fatalism. His real target is the complacent idea that happiness is somehow a universally guaranteed right and that, therefore, any unhappiness is wrong—a flaw to be corrected, an unfairness to be redressed. “Acceptance does not mean we like or deserve the experience of pain,” he insists. “It also does not mean we like losing something pleasurable.” Rather, he recommends a personal system akin to ancient stoicism, in which one notes that unhappy things are part of human life and can’t be avoided. His book argues that a slightly less immediate perspective is conducive to healthy living: that is, that pain and disappointment can be acknowledged without further reactions such as resistance, pursuit, anger, or judgment. In a series of densely packed, well-written chapters, Bushman anatomizes the various components of “self-lies” that people use to soften their disappointments and rationalize the unfairness of life, and what emerges is a clarifying system of thinking about the world. “We ignore the complaining engine of our psyches because we don’t perceive any other choice,” he writes, and in his chapters on self-destructive behavior, unhealthy emotional strategies, and the paramount importance of self-care, he lays out a program for exercising control over debased habits and lazy patterns. The author packs a great deal of complicated information into his pages, and he delivers all of it with the smooth skill of an expert teacher (he’s taught classes on comparative religion in the past). He also includes many illustrations, including graphs and charts designed to convey multiple steps at a glance; particularly helpful aids crop up during his discussions of brain chemistry.

A powerfully detailed method of dealing with life’s pains and injustices.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

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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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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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