Marshall finds a unique niche in a year replete with wider biographies of Luther and histories of the early Reformation.

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1517

MARTIN LUTHER AND THE INVENTION OF THE REFORMATION

A concise history of the act that started the Protestant Reformation.

Marshall (History/Univ. of Warwick; Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation, 2017, etc.) provides an intriguing historical survey of Martin Luther’s act of posting a list of 95 theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church door on Oct. 31, 1517. This moment in time is often seen as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, which rocked European politics and culture and changed the face of Christianity from then on. However, it may never have happened at all, or if it did, it was an unremarkable moment akin to tacking a notice on a public bulletin board. Nevertheless, the posting of the theses has taken on a life of its own as a symbol and as a historical marker, commemorated in art and celebrated on the calendar. Marshall explores the history of this phenomenon through the past five centuries. He begins with a retelling of the story behind the theses and then examines the uneven steps by which they eventually came to represent the beginning of a movement. In looking at the year 1617, the author notes that the commemoration of the Reformation was modernity’s first real celebration of a centenary, a trend that would become commonplace over the ensuing centuries. Furthermore, the 150th anniversary birthed the idea of a “Reformation Day,” now a common part of the Lutheran calendar. By 1817, Luther was being reimagined “as the eternal symbol of German freedom and nationhood.” Yet by 1917, that same Germany would be at war with the world, and the meaning behind Luther and his signature day would again have profound, albeit differing, significance in Europe and beyond. Throughout, the author offers interesting reading for both scholars of the Reformation and history buffs in general.

Marshall finds a unique niche in a year replete with wider biographies of Luther and histories of the early Reformation.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-968201-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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