Quiet yet resounding testament to genuine religious striving.

VOWS

THE STORY OF A PRIEST, A NUN, AND THEIR SON

An elegant, sonorous story of how faith can turn and bite you clear through, from a son of the bitten.

Manseau, co-author of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible (2004), is the child of two devout and disobedient Catholics, his father an excommunicated priest, his mother a former nun. Called to their vocations in Boston during the 1950s, his mother had exited the convent by 1968, but his father was still much involved with the Church. A product of Catholicism’s avant-garde, Bill Manseau felt he could meld his identity as a priest with a relationship with one he loved. Grace, authority and even God were at stake; the author’s father took the plunge and married. He joined a company of priests who had done so in hopes of reversing the Church’s policy of celibacy, which they believed had become a perversion of the early Christians’ belief that marriage was pointless given the imminence of Christ’s return to redeem the world. Instead, “hope for the world turned into hatred of it” in the celibate priesthood. Manseau’s work is a powerful narrative history of a vocation steeped in earthly influences. He rolls out the power networks of the priests, cops and politicians who ruled Boston; the lives of seminarians; and the evolution of progressive religious politics. After being excommunicated, his father remained a man of the people, believing in a Jesus who offered “respect, care, affection, healing” to all. Only late in the book do we learn the primary reason Manseau’s mother took off her habit; it will be all too familiar to members of the scandal-plagued Boston archdiocese. Nonetheless, Manseau feels intellectually and emotionally drawn to religion. His quest provides a study in contrast with that of his parents, yet the final chapter shows how close they remain.

Quiet yet resounding testament to genuine religious striving.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-4907-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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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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