Muslims and Christians can live together, Kiser’s poignant narrative asserts, and extremism comes to no good end.

THE MONKS OF TIBHIRINE

FAITH, LOVE, AND TERROR IN ALGERIA

A heart-wrenching tale of French monks slaughtered by Islamic extremists in Algeria.

Not because they were Christians, the author argues early on, but because they refused to leave their Muslim friends. Their murderers didn’t necessarily see it that way, however. The 1996 massacre of the seven monks at the Tibhirine monastery in military-controlled Algeria was part of a radical Islamic wave that killed foreigners of all stripes simply because they weren’t Muslim. Kiser personalizes this tragic episode of recent history. His painstaking characterization of each monk, especially the prior of the monastery, Brother Christian-Marie, makes this an incredibly emotional story. A former officer in the French army who fell in love with Algeria during the country’s war of independence, Brother Christian-Marie raised the eyebrows of other Trappists with his studies of Islam. He was supposed to devote his life to contemplation; instead, he focused on how he might bring his little Christian community closer to the Muslim world surrounding it. Local Muslims loved the monastery in return, viewing the monks as holy men who could be depended upon for food and medical attention. In his debut, technologies broker Kiser builds up the drama leading to the monks’ death with the skill of a novelist. Anti-government rebels who want to purge Algeria of non-Muslim influences visit the monastery but are held off at first by Christian’s combination of piety and brusqueness. As the crisis mounts and other non-Muslims are killed nearby, however, the steadfast monks grow fearful. They band together even more closely and send their youngest member off to France to continue his studies. The reader feels helpless as the kind and harmless brethren await their doom. When the prior and his monks are finally carried away and killed, their pointless deaths illustrate the consequences of vengeful religion.

Muslims and Christians can live together, Kiser’s poignant narrative asserts, and extremism comes to no good end.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-25317-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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