Extremely well-researched and fluidly written, Harrington’s work will serve as a meaningful resource for students of...

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DANGEROUS MYSTIC

MEISTER ECKHART'S PATH TO THE GOD WITHIN

Insightful biography of German theologian Meister Eckhart (1260-1328).

Harrington (History/Vanderbilt Univ.; The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century, 2013, etc.) makes a worthy effort in building this biography around a man whose life is scantily documented. Eckhart left little behind aside from sermons and theological writings, despite being one of the most learned individuals of his day. The author follows what is known of his career and uses other sources to re-create the situations and circumstances that Eckhart most likely experienced in his youth and early adulthood before moving on to his somewhat more documented later years as a public preacher and ecclesiastical administrator. A Dominican monk, Eckhart attained the rare title of “Master,” or “Meister,” of theology through years of study mixed with periods of leadership in his monastic order. In middle age, he began a monumental theological undertaking only to eventually cast it aside in favor of reaching the common populace (including women) with his insights on communion with God. Eckhart’s ideas—which entailed negative theology (i.e., understanding God’s nature by describing what he is not); “letting-go-ness” (gelâzenheit), a mystical technique leading to spiritual rebirth; and direct access to the divine by even the most ordinary layperson—met with mixed reactions. Some were enthralled by his teachings, some did not understand him, and others felt he was flirting with heresy. He died in Avignon amid a papal trial over the content of his works, after which his ideas and very name were largely buried for centuries, only to be rediscovered in full force in modernity. Not only does the author craft an excellent biographical work based on outside sources, he also does an admirable job of presenting Eckhart dispassionately, as a historical figure, a theological innovator, and an impetus for modern thinkers.

Extremely well-researched and fluidly written, Harrington’s work will serve as a meaningful resource for students of mysticism and of late Medieval Christianity.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-98156-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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