Unfocused, and not for the fainthearted, but a clarion call for the like-minded that will perhaps attract the curious as...

THE POWER OF INDIGNATION

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE MAN WHO INSPIRED THE ARAB SPRING

An intellectual autobiography by the French activist who wrote Time for Outrage, the pamphlet some claim sparked the Arab Spring.

Now 94, Hessel hopes that the era of nation-states is passing. He fled his own nation during World War II to join Charles de Gaulle's resistance group in London. Returning to France, he was captured by the Nazis and deported to Buchenwald; he survived with help from Eugen Kogon, later a witness against Nazi atrocities. Hessel was one of 12 people who worked for three years to draft the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published in 1948. Subsequently making a distinguished career in French government, he was inducted into the Légion d'honneur in 2006. In Hessel’s view, the Universal Declaration offers an agenda for the future. Its groundbreaking feature is the assertion that human rights are primary; Hessel and others intended that this would provide the “fundamental value on which the new world would be built.” The sovereignty of governments has “to cede to human rights,” he argues; potential conflicts must be settled rather than fought. Nation-states, products of the Treaty of Westphalia, are driven by two forces: libido possidendi, the lust to own or possess, and libido dominandi, the thirst for power or domination. These imperatives transform leaders into tyrants and citizens into subjects. Hessel buttresses his argument with references to contemporary European philosophers and politicians; he grounds his opposition to Marx, Freud and Nietzsche in the abiding truths of the Greek classics. Reliance on these sorts of sources means that Hessel’s book is very much out of step with the political discourse favored in contemporary America, but he does provide insight into a particular strand of contemporary European thought, rooted in what he calls “indignation” over the selfish, irresponsible behavior of today’s political elites.

Unfocused, and not for the fainthearted, but a clarion call for the like-minded that will perhaps attract the curious as well.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-62087-092-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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