An entertaining, informative, and enlightening narrative on the German methods of parenting that will have many in the U.S....

ACHTUNG BABY

AN AMERICAN MOM ON THE GERMAN ART OF RAISING SELF-RELIANT CHILDREN

How an American woman altered her parenting methods to mimic her new German neighbors.

When Zaske (The First, 2012) moved with her husband and young daughter to Berlin, she discovered that her German neighbors handled parenting quite differently than what she was used to in the U.S. In this well-written mix of personal reflections and sociological data, the author explains why she decided to change how she raised her daughter and newborn son in order to fit in with German attitudes toward parenting. Although skeptical at first, she soon discovered that many of her fears and concerns regarding playground safety, a parent’s need to be ever watchful, and engaging in endless play rather than academics were unwarranted. Her children thrived under the less-controlling lifestyle and became far more secure and self-reliant, as do most German children. Germans allow even the very young to use knives and matches under supervision and older children to walk to and from school or to the playground unaccompanied by an adult. Like many Europeans, they emphasize the importance of being outside regardless of the weather, with infants left well bundled in strollers while parents shop or eat lunch indoors; visits to numerous parks and green spaces are also common. Nudity is readily accepted, and human sexuality is taught early in the schools, providing children with a solid knowledge base from which to make informed decisions before they reach puberty. Zaske also examines the difference between the German educational system’s intentional teaching and awareness of the Holocaust and the U.S. and its “cursory treatment of our country’s historical crimes.” Even though the author’s children didn’t reach their teens while they were in Berlin, she includes important details about the freedoms German teens enjoy, including specially designed sites where they can congregate with friends.

An entertaining, informative, and enlightening narrative on the German methods of parenting that will have many in the U.S. reconsidering how they’re raising their children.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-16017-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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