An eye-opening and thought-provoking read.

Antisemitism is alive and well and worth talking about.

Fersko, senior rabbi at the Village Temple in Manhattan and vice president of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, argues that Americans of all backgrounds must discuss antisemitism. The author notes that many people view antisemitism as a problem of the past, an issue that is rare and isolated in 21st-century America. She demonstrates convincingly that this mindset is misinformed and that antisemitism is on the rise. Early on Fersko provides a lengthy explanation of antisemitism as “the longest-held, farthest-reaching conspiracy theory in the world.” She explains that antisemitism is a belief in a variety of lies and stereotypes about Jews and Judaism, which manifests in everything from seemingly innocuous remarks to outright physical violence. Fersko points to seven points of dialogue that Jews and non-Jews need to address in order to help battle antisemitism, including race, Christianity, microaggressions, the Holocaust, and Israel. Throughout, she urges readers to educate themselves about the past and to learn to recognize the prejudices about Jews that many Americans inherit unknowingly. Though Fersko addresses such obvious sources of antisemitism as right-wing and racially based extremist groups, she makes it clear throughout the book that the American left is also a major source of antisemitism today. In some cases, this is seen in virulent anti-Israel stances, where left-wing activists portray Jews as racists and oppressors. In other cases, American liberals simply perpetrate tropes and stereotypes about their Jewish friends and neighbors, often through microaggressions, misplaced humor, miseducation about the Holocaust, etc. Though there are certainly points for debate, the text serves as a meaningful starting point for dialogue. If nothing else, she provides the important reminder that the age-old specter of antisemitism is not extinct; in many ways, it’s stronger and more dangerous than at any time since the Holocaust.

An eye-opening and thought-provoking read.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9781541601949

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


An overdue upending of art historical discourse.

An indispensable primer on the history of art, with an exclusive focus on women.

Prominent 19th-century art critic John Ruskin once proclaimed, “the woman’s intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement, and decision,” and traces of this misguided and malignant sentiment can still be found over a century later in art institutions around the world. A 2019 study found that “in the collections of eighteen major US art museums, 87 percent of artworks were by men, and 85 percent by white artists.” There’s a lot to be mad about, but London-based art historian Hessel nimbly pivots that energy into a constructive, revelatory project. This book is not a mere rebuttal to the aforementioned discrimination; deftly researched, the text reveals an alternate history of centuries of artistic movements. With palpable excitement, the author shifts the focus from widely known male participants to the unsung female players of the time. Art aficionados will delight in Hessel’s sleight of hand and marvel at her wide, inclusive reach. Spanning from Baroque art to the present day, she effortlessly removes “the clamour of men” and, in a series of short biographical profiles, shapes a historical arc that still feels grounded even without a familiar male presence. Art history must “reset,” Hessel writes, and she positions her book as an important first step in that reconfiguration. While the author progresses mostly movement by movement, her broader tangents are particularly profound. One of many highlights is a generous overview of queer artists of the Weimar era. Hessel is occasionally uneven with how much content she allots each artist, and some perfunctory profiles feel like the result of trying to highlight as many names as possible. Nonetheless, even the shortest gloss provides enough intrigue to be a successful introduction to an artist who might otherwise be forgotten.

An overdue upending of art historical discourse.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780393881868

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023