Geller sets out a compelling tale of a diverse group of German Jews in the early 20th century who were broadly...

THE SCHOLEMS

A STORY OF THE GERMAN-JEWISH BOURGEOISIE FROM EMANCIPATION TO DESTRUCTION

Social history of the “modern German-Jewish epoch” in Berlin, viewed through the trajectory of one middle-class family before their dispersion by the Nazis.

The stories of wealthy German-Jewish families have been presented in numerous collective biographies—e.g., of the families Cassirer, Mosse, Warburg, and Wertheim. In this academic work, Geller (History, Judaic Studies/Case Western Reserve Univ.; Jews in Post-Holocaust Germany, 1945-1953, 2004, etc.) focuses on one bourgeois clan of printers in Berlin. Originally from Glogau in Lower Silesia, the Scholem family experienced a typical immigration pattern as the strictures on Jewish migration were relaxed by an edict in 1812 that granted “rights to ordinary Jews” and permitted “their eventual integration into German society.” Berlin was essentially a city of immigrants, “a magnet for those seeking their fortunes." The first generation of Scholems in Berlin owned a restaurant, and the second took up lithography, a timely trade since Germany was experiencing “a massive increase in the number of newspapers, pamphlets, and posters.” Arthur Scholem, born in 1863, was part of the generation that would “complete the process of modernization” begun by his father; Arthur became an important leader in standardization. With the arrival of World War I, the Scholems “held fast to their vision of an inclusive German nation.” Geller successfully excavates the family history to show how Arthur’s four sons would delineate the fate of the Scholems: Werner became a passionate communist and was imprisoned by the Nazis and eventually killed in a concentration camp; Reinhold and Erich took over the family print business but were forced by the Nazis to sell it in 1934 and then moved to Australia; Gershom became a devout Zionist and notable scholar of Judaism who moved to Palestine before the crisis in Germany. He chronicled his youthful migration in the celebrated memoir From Berlin to Jerusalem.

Geller sets out a compelling tale of a diverse group of German Jews in the early 20th century who were broadly representative of the culture and class of a long-lost era.

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5017-3156-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Cornell Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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