A rich life well deserving of reconsideration. Showalter provides a solid launching point.

THE CIVIL WARS OF JULIA WARD HOWE

A BIOGRAPHY

An energetic new look at the author of the lyrics for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” finds a modern feminist thread in the heroine’s frustrated marriage.

Accomplished women’s studies scholar and author Showalter (Emerita, English/Princeton Univ.; A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx, 2010, etc.) focuses on the unhappy marriage of New York heiress and bluestocking Julia Ward (1819-1910) to the crusading Boston doctor for the blind and handicapped, Samuel Howe, a union that lasted from 1843 until his death in 1876. Ward was a gifted singer and cultured young woman, and she fell for the handsome, moody “knight errant” Samuel despite early signs that he had a controlling, morose temper. The marriage grew increasingly strained through numerous pregnancies—unwanted by Howe, who yearned for an equitable, affectionate companion and dreaded the strictures of motherhood. Samuel, very much a man of his era, believed women should be completely fulfilled by domestic duties and motherhood and was no doubt bewildered and angry by Julia’s restlessness. Showalter can’t help that Howe comes across from her letters as whiny and spoiled and thus not a terribly sympathetic character. After refusing to come home to Boston from a trip to Rome, during which she plunged into her poetry and found her voice, she returned just ahead of a scandalous marital separation and was shocked by the tanned skin and “harsh voices” of the older children she had left behind. Readers may be shocked when reading about submission to her husband’s sexual will in order to avoid scandal (producing yet more children) and her inability to reveal to him her first book of poetry. The power struggle continued with her fame as the lyricist of the “Battle Hymn.” Still, Howe certainly came into her own in later years, embracing women’s suffrage and feminist causes, elements that the author might have dwelt more on.

A rich life well deserving of reconsideration. Showalter provides a solid launching point.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4590-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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