An useful, interesting book for students of modern Chinese history and of missionary Christianity.

SHANGHAI FAITHFUL

BETRAYAL AND FORGIVENESS IN A CHINESE CHRISTIAN FAMILY

A Christian odyssey through three centuries of Chinese history.

Family stories have a way of unfolding gradually, in bits and pieces, and former longtime Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent Lin’s is no exception. The author grew up hearing occasional stories from her Shanghainese father, a preoccupied neurosurgeon, about his father, a minister, along with another relative, an uncle “with the curious name of Watchman Nee” who was China’s version of Billy Graham. Only after the post–Cultural Revolution détente were she and her family permitted to visit, and only then did the official repression of Chinese Christians begin to lift somewhat. Lin recounts the origins of the faith there with the arrival of European missionaries, their proselytizing coming at about the time that true opium, and not just that of the masses, was being imported in quantity—and often leading to a view among Chinese that there should be “no distinction between missionary and merchant.” In later years, writes the author, the communist state attempted to co-opt Christian churches with state-appointed clerics, when it wasn’t outright persecuting Christians to begin with. Lin traces the story of her family’s increasing involvement with organized Christianity over the years, finally leading to Watchman Nee, who early on in the communist era was accused of espionage and being an “economic criminal” because of his family’s bourgeois pharmaceutical business. By Lin’s account, he did what he could to work within the boundaries of the state’s evolving religious policy, sometimes, Lin reports, “coyly.” The author’s portraits of family members and other Shanghainese and their many difficulties during the worst years of the repression are affecting. As for the state of Christianity in China now, she expresses guarded optimism; though Watchman Nee’s works are still banned, she writes that one pastor told her the old repression would be “impossible” because “there are too many believers.”

An useful, interesting book for students of modern Chinese history and of missionary Christianity.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4422-5693-4

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2017

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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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