YOU CAN'T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN

A PERSONAL HISTORY OF OUR TIMES

The eminent radical historian (Boston Univ.; Declarations of Independence, 1990, etc.) recalls his struggles against American racism and war, and he expresses his hope for the future, in this memoir and manifesto. The son of poor Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Zinn worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and served as a bombardier in Europe in WW II. He attended Columbia University, received a doctorate in history in 1956, and became head of the history department at Spelman College, an African-American women's school in Atlanta. Zinn's experiences at Spelman radicalized him. A third of this text is devoted to reminiscences about the civil rights struggle in the South. His account is one of ordinary individuals taking small steps to battle racial injustice — integrating the Atlanta library system, sitting in with African-American students at lunch counters as a challenge to Jim Crow statutes, organizing Freedom Rides in Albany, Ga., and voter registration in Selma, Ala., in defiance of racist local governments and often pusillanimous federal authorities. Fired from the traditional Spelman for being too controversial, Zinn came to Boston University, where he opposed the Vietnam War. He describes his outspoken opposition to the war and his trip to Hanoi to repatriate liberated American prisoners. Finally, in a scattershot group of essays, he discusses his civil disobedience, his conflicts with the conservative Boston University administration, and his hope for a more decent society, brought about by ordinary people. Zinn's radical activism will not appeal to every reader, but he does argue persuasively — and relevantly, even for those who do not embrace his critique of America and its institutions — that "small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world."

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1994

ISBN: 0-8070-7058-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more