A sobering exposé of Saudi Arabian culture and a tribute to the courage and strength of both the author and her husband.

RAIF BADAWI, THE VOICE OF FREEDOM

MY HUSBAND, OUR STORY

In a slim volume originally published in Germany last year, the wife of imprisoned human rights activist Raif Badawi keeps her husband’s plight in the public eye.

Aided by Middle East reporter Hoffmann, Haidar reveals not only the harsh treatment of her husband, sentenced to 10 years in a Saudi Arabian prison and 1,000 lashes for the crime of apostasy, but also the severe limitations on the lives of women in Saudi Arabia. A traditionally raised Saudi woman, the author begins her story before their marriage, making vividly clear the segregation of life by gender: the only men she had spoken to were her father and her seven brothers. A cellphone, given to her by a married sister, launched the romance of Haidar and Badawi, and despite fierce family opposition, they married in 2002. Wahabbi Muslims, she writes, constitute a kind of state within a state in Saudi Arabia, controlling religious life, education, and, to some extent, justice. When Badawi started a website related to free speech, the religious police swung into action. He was arrested, and the site was shut down. Having sought and found political asylum, Haidar now lives with their three children in Sherbrooke, Quebec, where she continues to wage an apparently global campaign to win her husband’s freedom. In somewhat stilted prose, she blends the story of their adjustment to life in a cold climate, her estrangement from her Saudi family, her conflict over how much to tell her children, and her efforts, aided by Amnesty International, to win her husband’s release. Although Badawi, a recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, remains in prison, Haidar’s book ends on an optimistic note, her spirits buoyed by the international support her efforts have garnered.

A sobering exposé of Saudi Arabian culture and a tribute to the courage and strength of both the author and her husband.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59051-801-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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