Perfect for Tubman novices but also enjoyable historical reading for those who already know most of the stories.

SHE CAME TO SLAY

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HARRIET TUBMAN

A concise primer for adults who know the name Harriet Tubman (c. 1822-1913) but want to know more.

Dunbar (History/Rutgers Univ.)—whose second book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (2017), was a co-winner of the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Award—is more concerned with letting history come alive than burying it beneath the trappings of academic scholarship—though the notes and bibliography show that she has done her homework. “Here then, presented in a way that I hope is accessible, informative, contemporary, and full of black girl magic, is the multidimensional story of Harriet Tubman Davis, a true boss lady, a superhero, and a warrior,” writes Dunbar in the opening author’s note. From a girlhood bout of epilepsy and a head injury that gave her seizures to her strong religious convictions, Tubman felt that she was guided by “visions and images that predicted the future,” dreams that would alert her to danger and guide her actions “literally for the rest of her life.” Dunbar thus makes the same leap of faith that Tubman did (and encourages readers to do so, as well): to give her mission a sense of divine guidance and purpose. During her life, her God worked in mysterious ways, responding to her prayers to end the life of the 47-year-old slave owner who was planning to put her and some of her brothers on the auction block. She prayed for his death, her prayers were answered, and “Harriet’s immediate reaction to the news was pure joy.” Her single-minded conviction and fortitude not only served her well as a runaway slave who helped so many others escape; they guided her through a life of service, tending to the medical care of Civil War soldiers, fighting for suffrage, and working to establish a home for the aged and indigent. With illustrations and catchy asides enhancing the conversational style, this smoothly readable narrative tells a story kept alive through oral tradition for decades.

Perfect for Tubman novices but also enjoyable historical reading for those who already know most of the stories.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982139-59-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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