Intriguing, but at times dry and not entirely satisfying.

IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY

A MEMOIR

A journalist’s memoir of how he escaped the Christian fundamentalism that shaped, and distorted, both his and his parents’ lives.

Manning (Rewilding the West: Restoration in a Prairie Landscape, 2009, etc.) grew up on a farm in Michigan, the son of a working-class man with “a work ethic so deeply ingrained, it was not an ethic any more than breathing was.” His Christian fundamentalist mother “saved” his father, and the pair attempted to raise their children as Baptists. But as a teenager, Manning’s faith quickly “dissolved under logic.” A scholarship to the University of Michigan freed him from his parents’ fundamentalism. Ravenous for knowledge and “the sweep of big ideas,” Manning studied political science and philosophy. Yet it was folk music that made him realize that what the common person had to say was perhaps even more important. Mesmerized by the populism of Bob Dylan, Manning pursued journalism, which he took up after he left Michigan without a degree. He started by covering “cops and courts” for the Alpena News in Michigan, then moved on to the Post Register in Idaho, where he began covering political news. A corporate buyout impelled Manning to seek work at the Missoulian in Montana, where he wrote a series of articles condemning the logging industry that caused him to lose his job. In the meantime, the fundamentalist parents with whom he had little contact slowly receded into “an increasingly eccentric world of their own.” His terminally ill mother put her fate in God’s hands and died a horrific death while his father became a lunatic vagabond whom Manning tracked to the jungles of Panama. The story is as compelling as the parallels the author draws between it and the rise of Christian fundamentalism and right-wing politics in America. However, Manning also tends to intellectualize and shies away from probing the interpersonal dynamics of his family too deeply.

Intriguing, but at times dry and not entirely satisfying.

Pub Date: July 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-62030-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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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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