FOR THIS LAND

WRITINGS ON RELIGION IN AMERICA

Thirty years’ worth of Deloria’s essays on religion and Native American life, thoughtfully edited and presented. Deloria is famous as a pioneering Native American activist, legal scholar, and writer (God Is Red, 1973, and Custer Died for Your Sins, 1969, among others), but not as a theologian. Yet he spent four years in seminary and was rooted in a multigenerational family legacy of missionary work among Indians, so his theological opinions carry some weight, as well as his customary bite. Historian James Treat has gathered some of Deloria’s most memorable essays and chapters published since 1969, arranged topically and arguing for native autonomy and the need for Indians to eschew white-dominated Christianity and return to traditional tribal religions. Deloria’s battles with religious institutions are a recurring motif, as we see him criticizing the Episcopal Church’s missions to Indians (he resigned from the Church’s task force for minorities in 1969). Other essays deal with legal topics like religious freedom and the government’s responsibilities for redress of native grievances. Always, Deloria approaches religion with his attorney mindset: he is pragmatic, solution-oriented, and impatient with illogical arguments. His 1990s essays are generally more even-tempered than his bluntly radical writings from the early 1970s, but some issues still clearly push his buttons. He is particularly choleric about the trendy appropriation of Native American spirituality by whites, an exploitation which Deloria regards as dangerous. (“The non-Indian appropriator conveys the message that Indians are indeed a conquered people and that there is nothing that Indians possess . . . that non-Indians cannot take whenever and wherever they wish,” Deloria warned in 1992.) The essays are finished off by Deloria’s 1998 afterword, in which he describes in fascinating detail how his own intellectual development was influenced by scholars as divergent as Rudolf Bultmann and James Cone, as well as by “the stories of spiritual power and revelation” he learned growing up. A forceful and clear-sighted anthology.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-415-92115-5

Page Count: 311

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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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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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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