Not just a compelling personal memoir, this book holds lessons for all of us.

AS A WOMAN

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT POWER, SEX, AND THE PATRIARCHY AFTER I TRANSITIONED

A transgender woman chronicles her difficult journey from "alpha male" and evangelical leader to life in the body that feels most natural to her.

Paula was born Paul in West Virginia, raised to follow in the footsteps of an evangelical pastor father. Paul went to Bible college and became a pastor, "guaranteeing a life of cognitive dissonance." Though he "did not dislike being a boy…from as early as I can remember, in my heart I longed to be a girl." He married and was ordained into the Christian ministry, raising three children. Then, by transitioning from Paul to Paula, Williams "exploded the family narrative and shocked a whole denomination." After transition, she lost employment, lots of money, most friends, and the privilege routinely accorded White men. Today, the author is a pastor and pastoral counselor in Boulder County, Colorado, as well as an activist for gender and LGBTQ+ equity. She has broken free from evangelism to "embrace a more generous expression of the Christian faith,” and consequently, the fundamentalist church has rejected her. Nonetheless, the author continues to describe her journey in religious terms, seeing her transition and life experience as a "sacred and holy adventure." As she notes, “healthy spirituality can be a solution to the damage done by bad religion.” However, the author has also discovered that living as a strong female is not as easy as living as an alpha male, as many of the same traits (confidence, decisiveness) are perceived differently according to gender. More often than not, men are judged by their content, women by their looks. Delivering lectures, progressive sermons, and TED Talks, Williams describes "the surprises of living as a woman, and particularly the shock of losing my male privilege.” After her own transition, Williams calls for even broader societal change around gender and sexuality.

Not just a compelling personal memoir, this book holds lessons for all of us.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982153-34-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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