Realizing that he has more questions than answers, Smith cautiously sketches a useful blueprint for radical and...

INVISIBLE MAN, GOT THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHING

A YOUNG BLACK MAN'S EDUCATION

As black men are cut down by the police and self-appointed vigilantes, an activist wrestles with competing claims—from his family and community, his historically black university, the media, and white America—on his blackness and how it is to be lived.

Nation contributing writer Smith, who was raised in a strict military household and surreptitiously listened to hip-hop under the covers at night, writes of the tension between his straight-laced parents and the brash anti-establishment views of his artistic heroes. His political awakening was framed by a litany of names, men and boys like Trayvon Martin, whose death “places us in the unenviable position of wishing that our martyrs could have survived to become tokens.” Voting for Barack Obama was his father’s proudest memory, but the author did so unenthusiastically, feeling that the “potency of black political activism is undercut by the unfounded belief that we can find a place within the system and thrive.” Smith uses deeply personal, often haunting imagery to describe his formative years at a historically black college and his struggles with mental illness that left him a few credits shy of a degree. He gradually came to realize that, in his internal worldview, women had been nearly as invisible and agentless as black men in the white imagination and that the names of black women and black gay men who meet similar fates as Martin are quickly forgotten. “We use our anger at the state as a justification for the violence we enact on black women, then tell them not to hold us accountable until we have defeated racism,” he writes, and he connects sexism and homophobia to the structural and systematic oppression of black men in America.

Realizing that he has more questions than answers, Smith cautiously sketches a useful blueprint for radical and intersectional politics in a country where a black child can grow up to be president but where living while black is still dangerous.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56858-528-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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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