Studied anatomy of one bold moment of extemporaneous triumph.

THE DREAM

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., AND THE SPEECH THAT INSPIRED A NATION

A fan’s notes on the speech that garnered wide acceptance largely through MLK’s vision of what America could become, rather than a condemnation of what it was.

A Rhodes scholar in theology, Hansen, born the year after that 1963 event in Washington, D.C., first revisits the 1960s, with snapshots of the burgeoning civil-rights landscape. In three southern states, for example, no black child attended an integrated school; in the 100 counties of the South with the highest ratio of African-American population, fewer than nine percent of nonwhites were registered to vote. (King's principal objective was to denounce both Jim Crow laws in the South and the pernicious de facto segregation in the North.) Hansen then examines the most memorable of King’s thousands of speeches as a historical artifact: What is it that has sustained its remembrance? Were the thoughts and the language King’s alone? King took the podium at the end of the day, Hansen reminds, after many well-known civil-rights figures had spoken. He hadn’t had much national exposure until then, but a few minutes standing before the Lincoln Memorial changed all that, vaulting him into the national spotlight and forefront of black leadership. In closely analyzing the text of the speech, the author compares supporting drafts of two associates and King’s own final written version with the actual spoken words. There’s no doubt that King’s extensive departures from prepared text formed the most eloquent and inspiring moments. Further probing suggests how lifelong immersion in the language of the King James Bible may have melded with King’s unabashed borrowing of like-minded activists’ utterances to provide grist for “the dream.”

Studied anatomy of one bold moment of extemporaneous triumph.

Pub Date: July 11, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-008476-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

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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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