Segal has ably sketched the outlines of the subject; other historians will have to provide the color—and the depth. (12...

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ISLAM’S BLACK SLAVES

THE OTHER BLACK DIASPORA

In a volume designed to complement his history of blacks outside Africa, The Black Diaspora (1995), Segal examines the lesser-known story of the black slave trade in the Islamic world.

The author begins this sturdy but sometimes arid analysis by recognizing that slavery in the Islamic world was less pervasive and harsh than elsewhere. He is sensitive enough to recognize that no form of slavery is humane, but throughout their long history, Muslims—obeying the precepts of the Koran—treated their black slaves far less severely than did their New World counterparts. Slaveholders were encouraged to free their slaves, who then enjoyed equal rights under the law. Slaves were also used for different purposes in the Islamic world, where the demand for them was related more to social status than to economics. Segal provides a thumbnail history of Islam (explaining, for example, the difference between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims) and examines the history of black slavery within each geographic region where Islam came to be the predominant religion. He and other researchers are restricted, however, by the relative dearth of documentation: because the Atlantic slave trade was a much larger and more profitable enterprise, more precise records were kept. Much of the evidence for the Islamic trade, by contrast, is anecdotal and inferential. (Many of the quotations here are from secondary—even tertiary—sources.) Still, Segal estimates that in the 12 centuries of trade in black slaves in the Islamic world, some 11.5 million blacks were bought and sold—a number comparable to the 4-century total of the Atlantic slave trade. The author includes some horrifying details, including a graphic account of emasculation (black eunuchs were especially prized), and reveals that the buying and selling of humans continues today in Mauritania and Sudan. In a provocative epilogue, Segal assails the anti-Semitic extremists in America’s Black Muslim movement, comparing them more than once to the Nazis of the Third Reich.

Segal has ably sketched the outlines of the subject; other historians will have to provide the color—and the depth. (12 maps, some not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-22774-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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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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