An intensive journey inside Luther’s thinking as it was forming in opposition to the church.

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LUTHER’S FORTRESS

MARTIN LUTHER AND HIS REFORMATION UNDER SIEGE

An engaging study of a short but explosive period in the life of the great reformer and translator of the Bible.

Woodrow Wilson International Center senior scholar Reston (The Accidental Victim: JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Real Target in Dallas, 2013, etc.) immerses himself in the life of Martin Luther (1483-1546) with a contagious energy, drawing readers into the complexities of this fraught period of religious conflict without getting lost in the research. Luther’s role as a “contrarian” gave impetus to the movement that would take his name, and his many revolutionary actions included abandoning his legal studies to become a monk (thereby alienating his father) and nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Imperial Church in Wittenberg in 1517. The act of publicly denouncing the sale of “indulgences,” among other venal policies of the Catholic Church, caused an immediate counteroffensive from the pope, who tried to lure him to Rome and excommunicated him. Nonetheless, Luther hardened his positions, questioning even the validity of Catholicism’s sacraments, the demand of celibacy from priests and the need for good works in attaining heavenly salvation rather than “by faith alone.” After a bruising interrogation by Charles V’s minions at the Diet of Worms in 1521, Luther was quietly removed from peril and sheltered by pro-reform sympathizer Elector Frederick the Wise at his Wartburg Castle, where Luther lived in disguise and wrote prodigiously. His correspondence to fellow scholars and advisers would help hone his ideas and inform his translations of the New Testament. While he was wrestling over these months with Satan, as he wrote, his radicalized rival Gabriel Zwilling and others took the rebellion to violent levels, prompting Luther to re-emerge and re-establish control of his flock with new clarity. In a swift-moving narrative, Reston examines all of the aspects of this tumultuous time for the reformer.

An intensive journey inside Luther’s thinking as it was forming in opposition to the church.

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-465-06393-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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