Civil War buffs and Scripture enthusiasts alike will find this book to be a uniquely worthwhile reading experience.

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A HOLY BAPTISM OF FIRE AND BLOOD

THE BIBLE AND THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

A fresh exploration of the Bible’s role in the Civil War.

Byrd, a professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt Divinity School, provides a useful, original contribution to the vast library of Civil War history, focusing not merely on faith or religion in the context of the war, but on the Bible itself. Given the depth of religious fervor and level of biblical literacy that marked American society during the war years, the author is able to tap into a deep well of cultural riches and historical insights. “The American Civil War was not primarily a war over the Bible,” writes Byrd in the epilogue, “but for many Americans it was a biblical war,” and he points out several times that Lincoln once noted how both the North and the South “read the same Bible.” Both sides did indeed read the same Scriptures, and while both believed the Scriptures supported their views, they offered wildly differing interpretations. Byrd also shows how the Bible was a central point of reference for nearly everyone in Civil War society, from enlisted men to officers, abolitionists to proponents of slavery, politicians to, of course, clergy. Old Testament references, many of which are obscure today, were used widely by both sides of the conflict to interpret the contemporary events and find the direction of God’s favor. The Bible was used to prove, understand, or explain everything, from White supremacy to the reasons for specific military defeats to the assassination of Lincoln. As the war carried on, the language of sacrifice found throughout the Bible saturated Americans’ understanding of the conflict. “We misunderstand the Bible’s role in the war…if we devalue the biblical images of sacrifice,” writes the author, whose eye-opening analysis shows how, through sacrifice and atonement, Americans from both sides found meaning in the carnage of war.

Civil War buffs and Scripture enthusiasts alike will find this book to be a uniquely worthwhile reading experience.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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