Jews, Muslims and Christians alike may take offense to Hazleton’s contribution to plurality.

JEZEBEL

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE BIBLE’S HARLOT QUEEN

A dogged defense of one of the Bible’s most controversial characters, used to grind a few axes.

Hazleton (Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother, 2004 , etc.) aims to peel back centuries of slander and misconception about the character of Jezebel, utilizing modern archeological evidence, textual criticism and her own Mid-East experience. However, she leaps beyond the realm of biblical criticism to create a character all her own. The author’s Jezebel is a beautiful, proud, cosmopolitan queen, a model of civility set against the rugged milieu of backwater Israel. She is also virtually guiltless, her only fault apparently being a well-earned arrogance as the worldly queen of the uncouth. Hazleton presents Jezebel in such a light largely to juxtapose her to her arch-enemy, the prophet Elijah—who the author palpably, almost viciously, disdains. But Hazleton’s rehabilitation of Jezebel is a secondary aim. Her main theme is what she sees as an ageless struggle between civilized plurality and tolerance on one hand, and destructive fundamentalism on the other. Elijah—who she compares to both al-Qaeda operative al-Zawahiri and Yigal Amir, Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin—is squarely in the fundamentalist camp. The prophet, described as “downright feral,” is the antithesis of Hazleton’s Jezebel, who understood tolerance and statecraft and stood almost alone in ancient Israel against “fanaticism and intolerance.” The implications for today are obvious: “Elijah issues the classic challenge, heard everywhere from Islamist madrasas and hard-line yeshivas to evangelical seminaries: you’re one of us, or one of them.” The author’s attempt to resurrect the reputation of Jezebel is certainly hindered by her own heavy-handed rhetoric. She argues correctly that Jezebel’s name has been used (and misused) throughout time for the purposes of advancing separate arguments. But with this book, she does exactly that.

Jews, Muslims and Christians alike may take offense to Hazleton’s contribution to plurality.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-51614-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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