This remarkable memoir serves as a moving examination of the complex forces of ethnicity, nationality and history that shape...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • National Book Critics Circle Finalist

THERE WAS AND THERE WAS NOT

A JOURNEY THROUGH HATE AND POSSIBILITY IN TURKEY, ARMENIA, AND BEYOND

A young Armenian-American journalist examines her identity and personal history.

New York Times contributor Toumani grew up hating Turkey. She knew that between 1915 and 1923, nearly 1 million Armenians were massacred and another 1 million deported from the Ottoman Empire, a surge of violence that punctuated generations of oppression. She also knew that the Armenian diaspora was obsessed with world recognition of the conflict as genocide, a term that Turkey vehemently rejected. Even 100 years later, many Armenians are still ferocious in their abhorrence of all things Turkish. But for Toumani, that hatred had come “to feel like a chokehold, a call to conformity,” and she wanted “to understand how history, identity, my clan and my feeling of obligation to it, had defined me.” That search took her to Turkey, where she lived for more than two years, interviewing writers, historians, students, professors and activists about the fraught relationship of Turks to ethnic minorities. Cautious about admitting that she was Armenian, Toumani discovered that once she did, “the distance from ‘Nice to meet you’ to the words ‘so-called genocide’ was sometimes less than two minutes long.” Many Turks claimed to have Armenian friends, but stereotypes were deeply entrenched: Armenians were greedy, shifty and duplicitous. The murder of an outspoken journalist who worked to find common ground between Turks and Armenians brought political hatreds into stark view. Arriving with the idea that “soft reconciliation was important and valuable—that simply getting Turks and Armenians to interact as human beings seemed like a major step,” Toumani felt increasingly frustrated with the intolerance she encountered and with her own prejudices, which “seemed stronger than ever.” She came to believe that the term “genocide” is no more than a clinical label that dilutes the visceral reality of the past.

This remarkable memoir serves as a moving examination of the complex forces of ethnicity, nationality and history that shape one’s sense of self and foster, threaten or fray the fragile tapestry of community.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9762-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more