Thoroughly, lovingly researched, this is weakened a bit by inconsistencies of style and organization. (22 b&w...

THE ENIGMA OF ANNA O.

THE REMARKABLE STORY OF VISIONARY, WRITER, FEMINIST, AND SOCIAL WORKER, BERTHA PAPPENHEIM

A motley and admiring memoir of the remarkable woman known as “Anna O.” in Studies on Hysteria by Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud.

Guttman (Speech, Theater and Media Studies/City Univ. of New York) has done the work demanded by her daunting subject. She visited all the relevant sites, read everything there is to read, visited every useful archive, and devoted ten years to the project. As a result, she has brought to life the amazing Bertha Pappenheim (1857–1936), who, once she emerged from her “hysteria” (exacerbated if not engendered by the illness and death of her beloved father), devoted herself with fierce intelligence and passion to a variety of feminist, Jewish, and humanitarian causes until she died of cancer on the eve of the Holocaust. Guttman could not discover much about Pappenheim’s childhood, so she picked up the story in 1880 when Bertha, who was raised in comfort in a prosperous Jewish home in Vienna, began to suffer from a variety of debilitating symptoms with no evident medical cause. The early chapters deal principally with Bertha’s profound and intimate relationship with her physician (Breuer), who was developing with Bertha the “talking cure” that would provide the foundation for the nascent field of psychotherapy. Breuer was not completely successful, so Pappenheim was confined for some time in asylums before her eventual recovery. Afterwards she never married and spent her long, productive career writing fairy tales, plays, short stories, and feminist articles, and establishing and running an important Jewish women's organization as well as a home for unwed Jewish mothers. She was a lifelong opponent of prostitution and a lifelong advocate for women’s rights. There are some problems, none mortal, with Guttman’s approach. Several times she gets wrong the titles of Mary Wollstonecraft’s works (which an admiring Pappenheim translated), she sometimes substitutes jargon for analysis, and several chapters consist entirely of translations of Pappenheim’s stories, letters, and prayers—items whose relevance to Pappenheim’s biography Guttman does not always convincingly demonstrate.

Thoroughly, lovingly researched, this is weakened a bit by inconsistencies of style and organization. (22 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55921-285-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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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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