A serene memoir in which the author takes valuable time to regard the character of the Palestinian people and their way of...

A COUNTRY BETWEEN

MAKING A HOME WHERE BOTH SIDES OF JERUSALEM COLLIDE

Reflections of a young American wife and mother trying to make a home in war-torn Jerusalem.

A peripatetic writer whose first memoir, The Bread of Angels, chronicled her life in Damascus while learning Arabic, here Saldaña (English/Al-Quds Bard Coll.) chronicles the latest leg of her life’s journey: leaving the monastery in the Syrian desert she often visited to marry a French monk, Frédéric. An American from Texas who grew up Catholic, the author was from a vastly different world than her deeply devout husband. Yet they were both avid travelers, and after getting married in his provincial hometown in France, they decided to settle, implausibly, in Jerusalem. Born under a lucky star, as his mother described him, Frédéric found the couple a home in a huge old house next to a monastery on Nablus Road, just outside the gates of the Old City: the “scar” between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Saldaña’s Arab neighbors—e.g., the falafel seller who claimed her front steps for business—were intrigued by her and her Christianity as well as by her ability to speak Arabic with them; she wondered if they thought she was a spy. Many of her neighbors were bossy yet well-meaning, and when she finally got pregnant with her first child, their devotion and kindness deeply moved her. However, there was the constant specter of war just outside the borders of the neighborhood, where the Israeli soldiers constantly harassed the Palestinians for their identification papers, and the tension remained high. With limpid, often shimmering prose, Saldaña builds an impressive sense of genuine emotion, and she vividly explores the array of life in that seething section of Jerusalem. The couple’s first child was born in a hospital in Bethlehem—among other ironies beautifully understated.

A serene memoir in which the author takes valuable time to regard the character of the Palestinian people and their way of life.

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3905-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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