Quinn—winner of the $500,000 Turner Tomorrow award for his novel Ishmael (1992)—tells the story of his psychological journey from a loveless childhood into '50s Catholicism and finally to his present creed of animism and self-discovery. Quinn tells us that, as a child in Omaha, Nebr., he was ignored by his mother, despised by his father, and loathed by his peers. He felt that he could win love and acceptance only by making himself perfect. He turned to Catholicism in his early teens, believing he could compel God to love him by excessive religiosity. He spent a few weeks at the famous Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. There he had a vision of the world ablaze with divine fire, but soon he was told by Thomas Merton, the novice master, that he needed to live life more before becoming a monk. Quinn relates how he then went into publishing, Freudian analysis, and two ill-starred marriages (jettisoning his Catholicism en route) before he ``joined the human race'' and realized that he was lovable just by being normal. Quinn devotes the last part of his book to a poorly thought through vision of human beings as part of the world—not dominating it—supporting this by a necessarily vague appeal to the countless centuries when humans were hunter- gatherers and invoking the unscientific term ``animism'' to denote his ideal of an imminent and possibly atheistic religion; yet he proclaims that ``looking at the universe, I find nothing in it that indicates the numinosity of the divine.'' Quinn takes himself very seriously as the author of Ishmael and is fond of quoting it. The bitterness of his attacks on education and religion as mere bundles of prohibitions that suppress spontaneity suggests that he is still reacting against his strong superego. Likely to interest only devotees of Ishmael.

Pub Date: June 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-553-10018-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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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 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...


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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