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THE TENTH PARALLEL

DISPATCHES FROM THE FAULT LINE BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM

An important ongoing venture in the West’s attempts to understand the conflicts of this region.

Stories of strife and self-identity around the beltway just north of the Equator, from Africa to Indonesia, where Christianity and Islam have shared an uneasy 1,500-year history.

Journalist and poet Griswold (Wideawake Field, 2007) traveled to Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia, on the African latitude, and Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, on the Asian, to get at the root of the deep-seated conflicts between adherents of Islam and Christianity. She helpfully begins with geography, history and demographics lessons for each country, patiently explaining the Tenth Parallel’s delineation in Sudan between the arid Arab north and the tribal, intermittently Christian swampy south, both vying for land, oil and water possession and manipulated by autocratic governments. Nigeria, a major petroleum producer and enormously corrupt, is fairly evenly split between Christians and Muslims, who regard each other as “objects of competition and obstacles of survival,” mostly in terms of economic resources. British and American evangelicals have been building a following in Africa since the 19th century, and Griswold examines the legacy of various missionaries, many of whom still enjoy vital offshoots. In their modern manifestations, both Islam and Christianity have “reawakened” in the forms of “ecstatic experience”—Islam as fundamentalism, Christianity as evangelicalism and Pentecostalism, both casting backward for their authenticity and power, and both contentious. Though home to the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia has a vocal Christian minority, as does its neighbor Malaysia, while the Philippines is predominately Catholic. Griswold keenly investigates how the global clash of religions especially takes its toll on women and children. She visits religious leaders on both sides and debates finer points of their arguments.

An important ongoing venture in the West’s attempts to understand the conflicts of this region.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-374-27318-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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

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