THE NEW COLD WAR?

RELIGIOUS NATIONALISM CONFRONTS THE SECULAR STATE

A sensitive survey of religious nationalism around the world, with some gentle advice for Americans bewildered by all the uproar. The aim of religious nationalists of every stripe—Buddhists in Mongolia, Muslims in Palestine, Sikhs in India—is invariably the same, says Juergensmeyer (Religion and Political Science/University of Hawaii): to dismantle the secular state, perceived as morally and spiritually bankrupt, and replace it with a government founded on religious principles. Juergensmeyer rejects calling this trend ``fundamentalist''—mostly because of the word's pejorative connotations—and instead labels it ``anti-modernist.'' Perhaps postmodernist would be more accurate, for the movement is growing by leaps and bounds. Instead of ``the emergence of mini-Americas all over the world,'' as anticipated just a generation go, the new world order seems to consist of various religious groups warring for theocratic states. The foremost example, of course, is Iran. But Juergensmeyer covers a number of other tinder spots, such as Egypt, where an Islamic revolution may be imminent; Israel, under pressure from the ultraright; India, where Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims clash with each other and the secular federal government; and Sri Lanka, where Buddhist extremists slaughter villagers and in turn are ruthlessly suppressed. Juergensmeyer outlines the threats (violence, destruction of human rights) and blessings (a restoration of morality to public office) of the phenomenon. He concludes that religious nationalism will continue to expand, urges cooperation rather than confrontation on the part of American policy-makers, and holds out the possibility of a happy synthesis in which ``essential elements of democracy will be conveyed in the vessels of new religious states.'' Valuable for its global perspective and its ability to see things from the viewpoint of the religious nationalists themselves; as such, must reading for the Clinton Administration.

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-520-08078-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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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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