A moving story that aims to reconcile the experiences of faith and racism—but remains too intensely subjective throughout to...

DREAMING ME

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN’S SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

An intensely felt but highly personal account by an African-American academic of the journey she took from Christianity to Tibetan Buddhism—and back.

Raised in the 1950s in Docena, a small Alabama mining town, Willis attended segregated schools and was an outstanding student. While still in high school in Birmingham, she faced down Bull Connor’s attack dogs; later, at Cornell, she became involved in radical politics. Acutely aware of racial injustice and angry at white intimidation—the Klan once burned a cross outside the family home one evening while her father was working the graveyard shift in the mine—she had to decide, after graduating from Cornell in 1969, between joining the Black Panthers or studying Buddhism in Nepal. Although she felt it was her responsibility as a “thinking Black person” to join the radical group, her inner self rebelled and she went instead to Nepal (which she had visited the previous year while learning Sanskrit in India). In Nepal, studying Buddhism with a wise and perceptive Lama, she began to find herself at peace and better able to confront the stings of racism. When the Lama told here that living with pride and humility in equal proportions was very difficult, she understood at once that he had identified “one of the deepest issues confronting not only her, but all African Americans.” Back in the US she began teaching, got a Ph.D., and was granted tenure at Wesleyan (where she still teaches). Raised a Baptist, she has returned to her childhood faith and now calls herself a “Baptist-Buddhist.” Although she describes her parents with affection, the heart of her story is the account of her transforming encounter with Buddhism, which enabled her to overcome racism and practice the loving-kindness that Christianity demands.

A moving story that aims to reconcile the experiences of faith and racism—but remains too intensely subjective throughout to rise above the level of personal memoir.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-57322-173-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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