LIFT EVERY VOICE

TURNING A CIVIL RIGHTS SETBACK INTO A NEW VISION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

Legal scholar Guinier describes the experience that made her famous and the lessons she learned from it: President Clinton’s withdrawal in 1993 of her nomination as assistant attorney general for civil rights, under withering attack from conservatives. Guinier, recently appointed Harvard Law School’s first tenured black female professor, insists in this half-autobiography, half-treatise that Clinton actually did her a favor, despite her anger over the way she was treated by hostile critics, a press too lazy to verify attacks levied against her, and a president who had once been her friend. “From a momentary crisis,” she writes, “I retrieved the opportunity to become who I am”: someone who now strives to emulate Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela by “pushing forward from behind.” Guinier describes how she has relearned lessons from early in her career as a crusading lawyer for the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP, that lasting social change comes from the bottom up, from an energized citizenry, rather than from top-down fiats from legislators or administration bureaucrats. Guinier repeatedly hits readers over the head with lectures on participatory democracy and building from the grassroots. Also, her narrative would make more sense if she had placed her most important chapter at the beginning rather than near the end. In it, she defends her belief in proportional representation, which so outraged right-wing pundits in 1993. Her arguments for systems in which, basically, representation is based on the percentage of votes received, rather than winner-take-all, seem perfectly sensible. Certainly, just as her outnumbered defenders argued in 1993, there is nothing in her theories, which are modeled after numerous current and historical examples, to justify the vilification she received. Despite her tendency to pedantry, Guinier is an original and stimulating thinker whose ideas, in contrast to her last wide exposure to the public eye, may now get the broader and fairer airing they deserve.

Pub Date: April 7, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-81145-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998

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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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