An incisive sociological lens on a religion in flux, which, though centuries distant, continues to hold relevance for the...

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AMERICAN APOSTLES

WHEN EVANGELICALS ENTERED THE WORLD OF ISLAM

How evangelical missionaries, dispatched from New England to the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, failed spectacularly to convert the Muslim masses but had a lasting impact on the face of American Christianity.

Heyrman (American History/Univ. of Delaware; Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt, 1997, etc.) uses the voluminous diaries and correspondence of her pious subjects to explore the origins of evangelicalism’s ongoing fascination with Islam. Then as today, women greatly outnumbered men in the pews, and editors of church bulletins hit on the idea of “command[ing] the attention of male readers, perhaps even draw[ing] them into the evangelical orbit…by treating them to the exploits of dauntless adventurers in a dangerous place.” The austere, bookish New Hampshire churchmen who set out to share the Gospel with the Turks may seem ill-suited to the role of swashbuckling warrior, but this is a story about the power of the written word to shape public opinion. Notwithstanding their comically ineffectual attempts at evangelization, the missionaries’ confident chronicles of their derring-do captivated their American audience, giving the church the “manly bona fides” felt lacking. Their private musings were often strikingly different. They came across many more Europeans who had converted to Islam than Middle Easterners who converted to Christianity, and their personal journals alternate between the worry that Islam could be the superior faith and the stubborn conviction that “desperation, drink, and lust brought most Westerners into the Muslim fold and…bravado, shame, and fear kept them there.” Heyrman’s engaging writing makes even obscure points of doctrine seem exciting and relevant, and her focus on the ambitions and misgivings of the diverse individuals populating her narrative will appeal to casual readers and specialists alike.

An incisive sociological lens on a religion in flux, which, though centuries distant, continues to hold relevance for the present day.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8090-2398-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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