Perfect for lay readers who want something more than a mere introduction to Luther.

MARTIN LUTHER

THE MAN WHO REDISCOVERED GOD AND CHANGED THE WORLD

A meaty autobiography of the Reformation leader.

Metaxas (If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, 2016, etc.) brings his flair for epic biography that was on such impressive display in his 2010 book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Despite a glut of Luther biographies surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Metaxas offers something different and special. As in many other works about Luther, the author follows his life chronologically and covers much familiar ground. However, he manages to concentrate on certain aspects of Luther’s life and times that set his work apart. Metaxas expertly introduces the many key players in Luther’s saga in ways that make them understandable and unique to lay readers; notably, he realizes that places are often personae, and he treats the places of the Luther story as characters to be understood for the roles they played. The author relies heavily on primary sources, trusting his audience to read along with him in these documents. Unlike many biographers, Metaxas includes the full text of all 95 Theses (the key to the Reformation’s birth) in the middle of the book, devoting nine pages to them. Elsewhere, readers find an entire letter to Pope Leo X, who excommunicated Luther, and lengthy excerpts from other key source material. Most importantly, Metaxas shares rarely told stories about his subject, adding depth to an understanding of his life. He spends dozens of pages retelling Luther’s decision to marry and the details of his married life, details that are often a mere mention in other biographies. Finally, the Metaxas flair for dramatic language is on full display: “It is indeed as though every medieval mountain were uprooted and the whole Potemkin range of them cast into the heart of the sea….The curtain was whisked back and the papal Oz exposed as a fraud, frantically pulling his ecclesiastical levers.”

Perfect for lay readers who want something more than a mere introduction to Luther.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98001-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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