A masterfully poetic and intimate work that anchors mothering within the long-standing tradition of black resistance and...

BREATHE

A LETTER TO MY SONS

A distinguished scholar writes to her sons about the joy, possibility, and grace of black life amid ongoing American struggles with race, gender, and class.

Carrying on an iconic legacy of public letters from black writers—think James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Kiese Laymon, among many others—Perry (African American Studies/Princeton Univ.; Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, 2018, etc.) reflects on her family history, tying it together with cultural allegories to impress upon her sons the precious inheritance found within black social life and the pursuit of a livelihood full of “passion, profound human intimacy and connection, beauty and excellence.” A multidisciplinary and acclaimed researcher, Perry uses references throughout the slim volume that range across centuries and the global black diaspora, across folklore, music, and visual arts as well as the influence of numerous faith traditions. “The people with whom you can share the interior illumination,” she writes, “that is the sacramental bond.” She breaks down the structures of violence and marginalization that black children face while uplifting the imaginative and improvisatory space for them to focus on their becoming, to not be trapped in misnarrated stories or “forced into two dimensions when you are in four.” Echoing Baldwin’s distinctive “Letter to My Nephew,” Perry emphasizes the critical life discipline of making choices—not in the shallow sense of choosing success or achievement but rather within the depths of the long, historic freedom struggle to answer important questions—e.g., “How will you treat your word? How will you hold your heart? How will you hold others?” Deeply intergenerational, the book blurs intended audiences to call all of us to face up to legacies of injustice while insisting on the grace and conviviality necessary to imagine just futures.

A masterfully poetic and intimate work that anchors mothering within the long-standing tradition of black resistance and resourcefulness.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-7655-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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