A rich and provocative intellectual feast.

WE WON’T BUDGE

AN AFRICAN EXILE IN THE WORLD

An elegantly written, perceptive analysis of the tensions common to the immigration experience.

Born in Mali, now a US resident, Diawara (In Search of Africa, 1998, etc.) makes a deceptively low-key but important argument about African immigration that questions both liberal and conservative notions about immigrants, as well as sentimental attitudes toward Africa. The author (Comparative Literature and Cinema Studies/NYU) begins with his arrival in Paris, where he planned to spend a yearlong sabbatical writing a book about a decolonization movement. Instead, felled by a debilitating malaria attack, he revisited his own past and pondered such topics as ethnicity, the difference between French and American attitudes to immigration, French racism, elements in African culture that hinder progress, and his own decisions about how to live and think. While working in Paris in the 1970s, he recalls, he was determined to move to the US, whose music, language, and literature he was assiduously studying. Once in Washington, D.C., he worked at two of the city’s then-fashionable French restaurants while studying at a local university. He saw and rejected his fellow immigrants’ ambition to save enough money to make an impression when they returned home. He thought they should rather create new lives for themselves in the US, where, unlike France, the opportunities were numerous. Now, revisiting France, he remains critical of its widespread racism: liberals are intolerant of multiculturalism, the Right is nationalistic, individuals and bureaucrats are condescending and suspicious. Diawara also faults Africa’s extended-family system, which “locks people into conformity, saps the individual’s energies and resources, and prevents him from having a private life or accumulating fortunes necessary for the development of societies and industries.” He deplores the fact that African immigrants in France retain practices like female circumcision that preserve the worst of their culture.

A rich and provocative intellectual feast.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-465-01709-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Basic Civitas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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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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