The freshest, most elegantly written of the new books about the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls (see Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 1107, The Hidden Scrolls, p. 1108). In this very thorough study, Golb (Jewish History and Civilization/Univ. of Chicago) surveys earlier scholarship on the topic and finds it wanting. Almost all of the individuals and groups who have devoted themselves to piecing together and deciphering the scrolls and fragments found between 1947 and 1955 have believed they were written by scribes of the Essene community who lived in the ``monastery'' of Qumran not far from the shores of the Dead Sea. In 1980 Golb advanced his own explanation of the scrolls' origins: Qumran was not a monastery but a fortress, he argued, and the scrolls represent the remnants of the libraries of Jerusalem's various Jewish sects, who, in order to preserve their manuscripts from the Roman conquerors in the first century a.d., hid these religious and literary treasures in the Dead Sea area. Backing up his assertions here, Golb makes accessible some very technical material, demystifying the process of manuscript discovery, reconstruction, and decipherment. While many of his academic adversaries have depicted him as an upstart and a professional gadfly, he emerges from this volume as a reasoned, impassioned advocate of a more likely scenario for the concealment of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He doesn't spring his solution on us suddenly; he includes the reader in the process by which someone who has been involved in scroll research for the better part of his life, who once accepted the ``Qumran Hypothesis,'' began to see problems with it in the early '70s and eventually developed a compelling alternative. While detailing that process, Golb also chronicles the battles for control of the scrolls' possession and publication, a story that has been told before, though not in such exhaustive detail. The legions of scroll aficionados around the world can now read of conflicts both ancient and modern in a lively and informative new book. (Book-of-the-Month/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selections; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-02-544395-X

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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 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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