A page-turner for fans of John Paul II, devotees of papal history, or those who simply enjoy a good and literate personal...

LESSONS IN HOPE

MY UNEXPECTED LIFE WITH ST. JOHN PAUL II

The story behind the defining biography of John Paul II (1920-2005).

Vatican expert Weigel (Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, 2013, etc.) tells the tale behind the writing of his most influential book. In 1999, the author published Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II. Though not technically an authorized biography, Weigel received the written permission of the pontiff to write the book as well as the assistance of the Curia in researching it. The book changed Weigel’s life, but only partly through its publication. The process of researching and writing it was also life-changing, and that is the story the author conveys here. He takes readers back in time to the closing years of the Cold War, chronicling how he rose up the ranks of Catholic scholars and writers as the Catholic Church pivoted, with difficulty, toward a new worldview in terms of communism and its own future. As his story passes into the 1990s, the author describes a pope of immense moral stature who was often at odds with the church bureaucracy that often fought, or ignored, John Paul’s agenda in a changing world, as well as many of the problems besetting the church as the 20th century closed. Weigel interviewed these bureaucrats, among many others, to piece together the story of John Paul’s papacy. In the end, the author completed his acclaimed biography and received his greatest remuneration: the gratitude of the pope himself. Weigel brings out an astounding collection of names, and the work could easily sound like a continued exercise in name-dropping were it not for his skill as a storyteller. Though the language is occasionally overly forma, the author’s standing as a thinker and writer keeps his work from seeming arrogant.

A page-turner for fans of John Paul II, devotees of papal history, or those who simply enjoy a good and literate personal story.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-465-09429-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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