Crisp, interpretive biography, taking intelligent measure of its controversial subject. (8 pp. photos, not seen)

A PASSIONATE PILGRIM

A BIOGRAPHY OF BISHOP JAMES A. PIKE

A careful depiction of the haunted energy of a radical Episcopalian bishop.

James A. Pike wore his cloth at the vanguard of his time, the 1950s and ’60s. Not that his sentiments were original—“My notions are all derived from other people,” he once admitted. “I just get behind the ones I like”—but he spoke them before substantial audiences, first as dean of St. John the Divine in New York City and then as bishop of the San Francisco diocese, with enough fervency to have him brought up on heresy charges by his fellow bishops. Yet, writes Robertson (Denmark Vesey, 1999, etc.), Pike wouldn’t have attained those posts without a high degree of intellect and influence. He could raise money (always a big plus), and he brought his brand of “smells and bells,” High Church, Catholic Anglicanism into the limelight. He also brought forward social activism against racism and the war in Vietnam, a cheerful friendliness to nonbelievers, a nonjudgmental welcome to homosexuals, and receptiveness to the idea of ordaining women. These stances vexed many in the church hierarchy, but it wasn’t until he denied the virgin birth that they decided he was a candidate for the stake. The rumpus room of Pike’s personal life followed him like an evil shadow, his biographer explains; a civil-court divorce judgment without ecclesiastical validity, alcoholism, fiddling with the evidence of a lover’s suicide, all gave ammunition to his enemies, along with his belief in parapsychology and speaking in tongues. Yet Pike was also the man who brought the Niebuhrs and Paul Tillich to Columbia University, who fought for birth control and against Joseph McCarthy, who practically defined apologetics. A complex man, in other words: reckless, restless, a force urging an examination of limits, faith, and forgiveness.

Crisp, interpretive biography, taking intelligent measure of its controversial subject. (8 pp. photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2004

ISBN: 0-375-41187-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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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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