A tougher read for the casual Middle East reader than, say, Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem (1989), but far more...

BRING DOWN THE WALLS

LEBANON'S POST-WAR CHALLENGE

To reclaim its legacy as a paragon of plurality, argues a research associate at Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Lebanon must first climb out of the morass of `isms` into which it has devolved through decades of civil strife and the meddling of others.

Though relatively short, Dagher's book covers a lot of ground. It contains a historical overview of Lebanon's myriad communities as well as an analysis of the development of their mutual distrust. By exposing the nation’s selfdestructive, intercommunal misconceptions, the author aims to dispel them. Among her allies she numbers no less a figure than Pope John Paul II, whose1997 visit to Lebanon is stirringly described by Dagher, who shows him standing outside a cathedral (with the sun setting into the Mediterranean as a backdrop) and imploring the country’s youth to `bring down the walls erected in the painful past.` Those walls, in the author’s view, are founded on dogmatic ideologies: sectarianism, secularism, Maronitism, fundamentalism, pluralism, and pan-Arabism, to name a few. With unabashed passion, Dagher warns that if Lebanon fails in its multicultural mission, it spells doom not just for a nation uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between Christianity and Islam, but for the entire Levant, which looks to the `country of Cedars` as an oasis in a desert of expanding fanaticism. Her book is a model of engaged journalism, combining thorough research with intensity derived from a personal connection to the subject matter. Quoting numerous Christian and Muslim leaders who stress the importance of preserving diversity, she proves that pluralism is not her ideal alone; it is Lebanon's. Documenting the nation’s efforts before and after the civil war to build a model democratic society of diverse sects, she makes a convincing case that the current chronic discord is an aberration.

A tougher read for the casual Middle East reader than, say, Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem (1989), but far more penetrating and therefore a must for the expert.

Pub Date: May 8, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-22920-8

Page Count: 248

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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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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