A depressing yet thought-provoking look at faith’s many great failures.

READ REVIEW

IN THE NAME OF GOD

THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN THE MODERN WORLD: A HISTORY OF JUDEO-CHRISTIAN AND ISLAMIC TOLERANCE

Eye-opening journey through the history of persecution among the Abrahamic religions.

In this sprawling examination of “the histories of tolerance and equality, from the time when the Roman Empire became Christian to the genocides of the twentieth century,” writer and documentarian O’Grady walks readers through numerous bloody centuries and guilty civilizations. Though the author, who admittedly approaches her subject from a Western liberal perspective, purports to write a history of tolerance, it is clear that tolerance has always been lacking in the joint history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In some ways, however, that serves O’Grady’s overarching point, which is that tolerance itself is no virtue. “No one wants to be tolerated,” she writes. “What we all want is not to be tolerated but to be treated as equals.” As the author chronicles, tolerance has turned to hate in many frightening ways. In each of the roughly chronological chapters (beginning with an account of Diocletian, who reigned from 284 to 305 and was “pagan Rome’s most savage prosecutor of Christians”), O’Grady showcases one example of persecution after another: the formation of suppressed groups in early Islam, the Crusades, the Christian persecution of heretics, the Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews, the Jewish Ghettos, the Protestant-Catholic wars of religion, Sunni and Shiite conflict, and on and on. Many of the chapters could be books of their own, but O’Grady does a good job of keeping the narrative tight. Though the author makes clear that no religious group has innocent hands, she does take pains to suggest that Muslims have had the most tolerant history when compared to Christians—and Jews have rarely had the opportunity to show tolerance at all. Ultimately, she writes, humanity should stop valuing tolerance because tolerance is still a reflection of superiority. Instead, we must strive for the virtues of “liberty, equality, and solidarity.”

A depressing yet thought-provoking look at faith’s many great failures. (16 pages of color photos, timeline)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-507-6

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more