Overflowing with historical anecdote and contemporary reportage and essential to interpreting the current political and...

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THE EVANGELICALS

THE STRUGGLE TO SHAPE AMERICA

Another superb work by renowned but long-absent political journalist FitzGerald (Vietnam: Spirits of the Earth, 2002, etc.), this one centering on the roiling conflict among American brands of Christianity.

The author opens with a brief revisitation of a moment when progressive evangelicalism seemed ascendant: the presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, which soon gave way to a reborn kind of hidebound Christianity in the form of the anti-humanist Christian right, “declaring holy war against ‘secular humanism’ and vowing to mobilize evangelicals to arrest the moral decay of the country.” Thus ever it has been, from the burned-over revivalism of the 19th century to the latest religio-revanchisms from Colorado Springs or Lynchburg. By FitzGerald’s account, this revival of the right truly has been a revival, for after the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, “most informed people thought fundamentalism dead.” However, through rightists such as Billy Graham, fundamentalism was reborn as a political force. FitzGerald traces the culture wars that have since riven the country to the divisions between liberal and right-wing visions of Christianity as well as larger elements of society. In the 1960s, she notes, “most conservative Christians were horrified by the counterculture, but a number of young evangelical ministers, most of them Pentacostals, saw the potential in it for conversions.” Granted that many of the converted became conservative themselves and that the Christian right is, in the author’s view, mostly a reaction against the social revolution of that era, what has happened since is truly fascinating: the right wing of evangelical American Christianity has made a devil’s bargain with politicians such as the sitting president, who claimed the Bible as his favorite book but “did not seem to remember even a verse of it.” In making that bargain, it also may be making a last stand, since millennials are abandoning religion in droves, and those who do go to church are “on the whole more sympathetic with progressive positions than with those of the right.”

Overflowing with historical anecdote and contemporary reportage and essential to interpreting the current political and cultural landscape.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4391-3133-6

Page Count: 752

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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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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