BLACK PROFILES IN COURAGE

A LEGACY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN ACHIEVEMENT

A spirited collection of stories interspersed with the athlete-author's often clichÇd comments and observations. Former NBA basketball star Abdul-Jabbar (Kareem, 1990) contends that the accomplishments of African-Americans have—for the most part—deliberately been written out of the history books. Penned in a conversational tone, this book is meant to ``inform, encourage and inspire'' those ``young Americans who most need a heritage to embrace.'' Among those profiled here are some relatively obscure African-Americans, including Peter Salem, a slave who helped repel two British assaults at Bunker Hill, and Lewis H. Latimer, Thomas Edison's chief patent expert, who helped Edison usher in the age of electricity. Well-known African- Americans, such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, are also covered. In addition to celebrating the achievements of blacks, the author is out to demythologize the accomplishments of supportive whites. Abraham Lincoln, for example, is referred to as ``the Late Emancipator,'' who ``deliberately delayed while black people died.'' Abdul-Jabbar surmises that historians have constantly denied credit to those blacks who were at the forefront of our nation's major historical events because ``it was too much of a contradiction to enlist blacks in the fight for freedom and then deny them those rights on the basis of their skin color.'' While many of Abdul-Jabbar's contentions are certainly valid, there is one major flaw to his thesis. Whereas his generation's textbooks did omit the contributions of blacks, this is not the case in the multicultural '90s. Many of the nation's current textbooks celebrate the contributions of minorities (especially Native Americans and African-Americans), often at the expense of dead white males. Even a decade after JFK's title, Black Profiles in Courage would have been a slam dunk. In 1996, though, it seems curiously behind the times. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-688-13097-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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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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