An intriguing examination of the complexity of female power in a variety of relationships.

THE POWER NOTEBOOKS

A collection of personal journal entries from the feminist writer that explores power dynamics and “a subject [she] kept coming back to: women strong in public, weak in private.”

Cultural critic and essayist Roiphe (Cultural Reporting and Criticism/New York Univ.; The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End, 2016, etc.), perhaps best known for the views she expressed on victimization in The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism (1994), is used to being at the center of controversy. In her latest work, the author uses her personal journals to examine the contradictions that often exist between the public and private lives of women, including her own. At first, the fragmented notebook entries seem overly scattered, but they soon evolve into a cohesive analysis of the complex power dynamics facing women on a daily basis. As Roiphe shares details from her own life, she weaves in quotes from the writings of other seemingly powerful female writers who had similar experiences, including Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and Hillary Clinton. In one entry, Roiphe theorizes that her early published writings were an attempt to “control and tame the narrative,” further explaining that she has “so long and so passionately resisted the victim role” because she does not view herself as “purely a victim” and not “purely powerless.” However, she adds, that does not mean she “was not facing a man who was twisting or distorting his power; it does not mean that the wrongness, the overwhelmed feeling was not there.” Throughout the book, the author probes the question of why women so often subjugate their power in their private lives, but she never quite finds a satisfying answer. The final entry, however, answers the question of why she chose to share these personal journal entries with the public: “To be so exposed feels dangerous, but having done it, I also feel free.”

An intriguing examination of the complexity of female power in a variety of relationships.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2801-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

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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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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