LIVING FAITH

An unforgettable spiritual autobiography filled with wisdom and pleas for justice. Former president Carter's faith has been forged in some hard times, and these are unstintingly detailed here. He eloquently describes the loss of both his parents and all three of his siblings to cancer, as well as his own bitter political defeats, bankruptcy, and ostracism in the 1960s for refusing to join the racist White Citizens' Council. Carter outlines his own faults, his remoteness as a husband in the early years of his marriage, and his authoritarian treatment of his three sons. What emerges from these trials is a patient maturity, unburdened by trite answers to the basic problem of theodicy. Life is hard, and Jimmy Carter knows it. But he has also sustained a growing faith in the One who has guided him since he accepted Christ as a child. Carter's faith is a fin-de-siacle cross between ecumenical pluralism and old-time southern gospel religion. His beliefs are theologically sophisticated (he has read widely among 20th-century theologians such as Barth, Tillich, and Neibuhr) but still simple enough that the whole book reads like one of his famous Sunday school classes, a homiletical treat that relies on personal experiences and storytelling to relay a complex message. In the end, Carter's faith weighs in heavily on the side of social justice (though, in true Baptist form, he also relates some experiences from his missionary evangelism trips). He places the international mediation work of his Carter Center in a spiritual context, describing behind-the-scenes peace talks with Haiti's General Cedras and the late Kim Il Sung of North Korea, and issues a clarion call for peace through negotiation. He also writes spiritedly of his work for Habitat for Humanity, building affordable housing for the world's poor. Carter's life is best summarized by the title of one of his chapters: faith in action.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8129-2736-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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