A tendentious effort to keep our founding father firmly in the fold of Our Father (and His Son).

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WASHINGTON’S GOD

RELIGION, LIBERTY, AND THE FATHER OF OUR COUNTRY

Other historians are wrong: George Washington was no deist or secular humanist or atheist, he was an Anglican who kept Jesus in his heart but, for political reasons, out of virtually all of his public utterances.

The authors (father and daughter) rest their argument on their belief that Washington was not a hypocrite; he meant what he wrote and said. The Novaks adore their subject. The beneficiary of several miraculous interventions, he looked like a Roman warrior and had a brow like Caesar’s. “He was,” they write, “like a rock.” Washington loved his wife, his stepchildren, his army, his country, his God—and surely Jesus, too, though he never really said so, even on his deathbed. He believed the Supreme Being answered the prayers of his soldiers. (The Novaks do not much ponder the issue of why God neglected to answer the prayers of the Redcoats, many of whom were also Anglican.) The authors begin with a biographical sketch, then examine Washington’s religious beliefs. They cull from his letters and papers just about everything he ever said about God, discuss in great detail what he meant by “Providence” and argue that most other historians have erred. The elder Novak, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has written frequently on religious topics (The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1993, etc.) and has published previously with his daughter (Tell Me Why, 1998, not reviewed). Their prose ranges from high dudgeon to just-plain-folks: Washington was “no dummy,” they tell us, and he and Martha were “soulmates.”

A tendentious effort to keep our founding father firmly in the fold of Our Father (and His Son).

Pub Date: March 6, 2006

ISBN: 0-465-05126-X

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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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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