A moderate, judicious, and ultimately bland look at identity politics. Minow (Law/Harvard) sees the issue of human identity in a pluralistic society as a series of paradoxes. Consider: The struggle to be an individual is apparently universal; it is impossible to have an individual identity in isolation from others; maintaining a tolerant political system requires some intolerance of the intolerant; and the central paradox animating her thoughts on identity, the ``possibility of forging commitment to others without relinquishing commitment to oneself.'' She examines the general nature of identity and membership in a group, the role of law in reinforcing group identities, the dilemma of redressing wrongs against groups without sacrificing the individual, the special problems of who should control school curricula and the place of education in establishing identities, and the supposed dangers of political fragmentation along identity lines. The effort throughout to couch the discussion in terms of paradoxes is intriguing and especially illuminating in regard to the legal system (for instance, she notes that even the need to enforce equal opportunity laws requires that people be viewed as members of particular groups), but the indeterminacy is frustrating. True to form, Minow's closing suggestions for moving society in a positive direction are ``linked, but contrasting responses.'' Each embraces a ``but also'' that transforms the analytical paradoxes into paradoxical recommendations for action, e.g., permit parents to select schools ``and thus student peers'' for their children, but also ``subject those choices to constraints and incentives to promote exposure to diverse others, not selected by the parents.'' Although Minow believes that embracing the paradoxes of human identity will minimize fruitless exchanges between antagonists committed to opposing ideals, there is reason to wonder whether the potential for conflict has really been altered. A fine mind is at work here, but splitting hairs may not suffice in resolving these issues.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1997

ISBN: 1-56584-374-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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