TALES OF THE LAVENDER MENACE

Oh, to be young and a radical lesbian in the late 1960s and early ’70s—here is a sharp and funny account of what it was like. The author (Women’s Studies/Pace Univ.; co-author, Out of the Closet, not reviewed, etc.) was “a nice, Jewish girl from Brooklyn” attending Barnard College in the 1960s. Growing up with a mentally ill mother given to hallucinations, rages, and depression had driven her from home but not out of the closet. Jolted by the Columbia University student uprisings in 1968, she marched with antiwar and civil rights protesters—and began exploring her lesbian inclinations at Greenwich Village bars. She also began to be drawn to the fledgling women’s liberation movement, joining the radical feminist Redstockings and a consciousness-raising group. Also involved in the start-up of the Gay Liberation Front, she worked by day for Collier’s magazine and by night for a radical publication called Rat. On the feminist front, she was part of media women’s sit-in at the Ladies Home Journal and organized an “ogle-in” on Wall Street, where a group of women whistled and commented on men’s physical attributes as the bankers and brokers emerged from the subway. She also helped organize the “Lavender Menace” action (the term is Betty Friedan’s) that set lesbian interests on the agenda of the feminist movement. Exhausted, ill, and frightened because her phone was tapped, she took off for California, for a summer dominated by beaches, bars, sex, and minimal gay politics. This marked the beginning of a withdrawal from activism and the start of her trek to tenure. Jay’s action-packed stories are often accompanied by reflective analysis, including why many feminists resisted, and continue to resist, lesbians in the movement. Thoughtful, witty and informative, this memoir captures the fervor and exuberance of those years when young idealists stenciled T-shirts and marched to change the world—and perhaps they did. (8 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-465-08364-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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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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