Candid, sometimes angry and clearly cathartic for the author.

CRAZY FOR GOD

HOW I HELPED FOUND THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT AND RUIN AMERICA

Interesting glimpses into the burgeoning religious right folded into a deeply personal memoir.

After World War II, Schaeffer’s evangelical parents founded a mission in Switzerland called L’Abri, where he grew up. A large portion of the narrative is dedicated to those years and his conflicting memories of them. At times the author describes his father as a moody, even abusive man; at other points he speaks of him with great respect and love. He depicts his mother as a juggernaut who wore her piety on her sleeve and indoctrinated the children, yet his devotion to this “sexy saint” borders on oedipal. Likewise, he alternately paints his youth as an idyllic utopia and a period of boiling frustrations. At all times, however, Schaeffer is brutally honest. Pot-smoking, group masturbation, running away from boarding school, even the tricks he played on a mentally handicapped woman who lived at L’Abri—each unflattering incident is related in vivid detail. During the author’s young-adult years, his parents became quite well known, and he was solicited to work with his father on the 1974 evangelical documentary series How Then Should We Live? Schaeffer encountered many figures in the increasingly public and political evangelical movement; he offers particularly eye-opening accounts of his personal encounters with the likes of Pat Robertson, James Dobson et al. He became convinced that he did not fit into the evangelical mold and in fact had simply been living and speaking about matters in which he had been steeped since birth but basically never truly believed. His break from the movement and what followed in his life comprise the final chapters.

Candid, sometimes angry and clearly cathartic for the author.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-78671-891-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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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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