There is no doubt Marsh’s portrayal will infuse new controversy into discussions about Bonhoeffer for years to come.

STRANGE GLORY

A LIFE OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

A fresh look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), both intimate and theological.

Marsh (Religious Studies/Univ. of Virginia; The Beloved Community, 2005, etc.) looks anew at the famed theologian and anti-Nazi activist, using rarely glimpsed correspondence to paint a warts-and-all portrait of this German martyr. His dispassionate biography excels in two ways. First, Marsh thoroughly details how Bonhoeffer related to theology and to the theological backdrop of his times. Even as a young man, he rubbed shoulders and corresponded with some of the premier spiritual figures of his day: Niebuhr, Barth and even, to a slight degree, Gandhi. A major point of exploration for the author is how such people shaped the rising theological star. Secondly, Marsh attempts to provide a more closely examined view of Bonhoeffer’s personality than past biographers. For instance, he presents Bonhoeffer as spoiled and immature in his early adulthood and as comparably materialistic and peevish in the years leading up to the depths of war. Marsh delves into Bonhoeffer’s extraordinarily intimate relationship with his student, Eberhard Bethge, providing more detail, and more fodder for psychoanalysis, than previous biographers. Throughout the work, Marsh looks for ways of revisiting old truths about Bonhoeffer and offering fresh perspectives. Even his death is re-examined. Instead of simply repeating the story told by the concentration camp doctor that he died a quick death with grace and composure, Marsh points out that camp survivors have told different stories about how executions took place, leading one to believe Bonhoeffer suffered a terrible and tortuous end. Such re-examinations of previously unquestioned assumptions are common throughout the book. Though Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer (2010) is a more sensitive and well-written account of the subject’s life, Marsh also serves readers well.

There is no doubt Marsh’s portrayal will infuse new controversy into discussions about Bonhoeffer for years to come.

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-26981-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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