Like-minded readers will find Levy’s blend of Old Testament and New Age appealing.

EINSTEIN AND THE RABBI

SEARCHING FOR THE SOUL

A rabbi offers a program of soul-craft to get us through the “World of Separation,” this reality where nothing quite works and nothing quite makes sense.

“If the soul is so wise then why do we stop listening to our souls?” That is not the only rhetorical question that LA–based rabbi Levy (Hope Will Find You: My Search for the Wisdom to Stop Waiting and Start Living, 2010, etc.) raises here. Pondering a letter written by Albert Einstein to a rabbi decades earlier, in which the renowned physicist mused about why we humans behave as if we were somehow disconnected from the whole, Levy proceeds to offer common-sensical suggestions to forge links to our better angels—by, for one thing, praying. To skeptical listeners in a class, she posed it as a challenge: “Why not approach it as an experiment? Try waking up and reciting a morning prayer for two weeks and we’ll discuss it then.” Bingo: logging the hours produces results. “If you long to connect to the divine,” she continues, “begin studying, and you will receive timeless wisdom.” The author occasionally drifts into the soft precincts of the Sedona set, as when she likens the “California Roll”—what elsewhere is called the “New York stop,” drifting through a stop sign without ever quite stopping—as the way most of us rush through religious practice: “There is a tradition to stop and take three steps backwards at the start of the prayer. Why? We imagine our souls leaving this space and entering a holy space. Suddenly we are standing in the very presence of God.” For all the cheerful exhortation, there’s also serious reckoning with the big picture, with matters of life and death and the travails of daily life. Throughout, Levy comes off as a trustworthy guide, with just the right leavening (or perhaps unleavening) of humor and endless compassion.

Like-minded readers will find Levy’s blend of Old Testament and New Age appealing.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-05726-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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