A well-framed memoir, satisfyingly candid while also abrim with political theory: a filigreed work that maps Norton’s...

FIRE IN MY SOUL

JOAN STEINAU LESTER IN CONVERSATION WITH ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

Just when you’re ready to pack up the House of Representatives and ship them to Bazookastan, along comes a reminder that some among them actually strive for social justice—such as that rare bird Eleanor Holmes Norton.

In a gratifying autobiography/biography, journalist Lester (The Future of White Men and Other Diversity Dilemmas, not reviewed) tells the story with the help of significant patches of quotations from Norton. Readers will get a strong taste of Norton’s forceful personality and the constancy and vigor of her convictions, which are sometimes expressed with a passion that can make her seem overbearing (“. . . her biggest asset. And her biggest problem,” says Virginia Democrat James Moran). The roots of Norton’s activism are easy to discern in the proud and loving portrayal here of her ancestors, fugitive slaves who fashioned a life in Washington, D.C. The importance of family—a theme Norton will return to again and again in her career—is seen as she describes the importance of her mother and father: “He brought home his insistence upon being treated with respect . . . a black man insisting in every way you could find upon your dignity.” She details her years at Antioch and Yale and with SNCC, her radicalism and grassroots participatory philosophy, then her distancing from the Black Power movement, for “once Black Power became black racism, hey, they left me too. . . . The great unifying philosophies are what keep hold.” That sense of unity is what allowed her to operate so effectively within the public sphere, in New York City’s Human Rights Commission, at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and as congresswoman from Washington, tackling a swath of issues ranging from D.C. statehood through discriminatory practices wherever they might be and on to the Clarence Thomas appointment.

A well-framed memoir, satisfyingly candid while also abrim with political theory: a filigreed work that maps Norton’s evolution as an advocate for human rights.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7434-0787-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more