One woman’s deft, thoughtful account of Muslim-American and male-female relationships.

Travels Unveiled

ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY ON THE RAGGED EDGES OF CIVILIZATION

A personal memoir that travels decades, cultures, and many miles.

This is a man’s world, and no one knows it better that Juba, whose memoir—her first book—opens in 1999 in the unlikely setting of rural Pakistan. While staying in a hotel there, she responded to a request from her guide that she—as an American, who therefore must be smart—fix a satellite dish for some other guests. She replied willingly, only to find that the guests in question were Taliban; there was no room for mistakes, electrical or otherwise, particularly with her being an employee of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. In an extended flashback beginning with the next chapter, she details how she came to find herself in such a precarious situation. As a directionless youngster, she was an Affirmative Action recruit for a construction road crew and thus became one of the few women working in a male-dominated field. The challenges were real, from being denied opportunities for promotion and advancement to sexual harassment. Juba learned that her greatest chance for success lay in being observant and more or less invisible, to play by the rules, not make waves, but to learn everything she could about “the games men play”—the coded ways they interact with each other and with women. The knowledge she gained served her well in her second career with the U.S. diplomatic corps in the Foreign Service. Initially stationed in Islamabad, she interacted on a daily basis with conservative Muslims whose attitudes about women’s roles outside the home were profoundly different than those in America yet in some ways distressingly similar. In Pakistan, Juba had to navigate her otherness not only as a woman, but also as an American, walking a fine line between respecting cultural sensitivities and “leaning in” as a professional woman. Her stories about how she handled her interactions with the locals—almost all men, since Pakistani women have limited professional opportunities—are genuine, often funny, and sometimes frightening, as with the Taliban story. The stories also comprise an appealing travelogue as Juba, her colleagues, and their handlers traverse the enormous, diverse country seldom seen by Westerners. One flaw—possibly unavoidable due to professional restraint—is that apart from a harrowing chapter about the aftermath of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi, which Juba was sent to help oversee, readers learn little about what Juba’s job actually entailed.

One woman’s deft, thoughtful account of Muslim-American and male-female relationships.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5052-4867-8

Page Count: 154

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 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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