A digestible introduction to a specific piece of the history of the South’s racial politics.

WANDERING DIXIE

DISPATCHES FROM THE LOST JEWISH SOUTH

A nonobservant Jewish woman chronicles her journey to investigate the interwoven histories of the South’s Jews and African Americans.

In a series of brief excursions, Eisenfeld, a communications consultant who teaches science writing in the Johns Hopkins University MA in Science Writing program, recounts her travels from Virginia to Mississippi in search of the South’s lost Jewish communities. The further she traveled, the more she was convinced that the histories of Southern Jews and African Americans were inextricable. The trip forced her to reevaluate stereotypes about Jews and the South as well as her own “unexamined belief that I was a non-racist, open-minded, ‘color blind’ person with progressive views about acceptance, cultural sensitivity, and everything else that’s politically correct, or as I like to see it: respectful.” Eisenfeld visited the few remaining descendants of once-thriving Jewish communities and traversed cemeteries and converted synagogues. She toured former Jewish-owned slave plantations and schools built by Sears, Roebuck, and Company president Julius Rosenwald, “a Jewish Yankee who came down South to do good.” As the author notes, the complex role that Jews have played in Southern race relations has inspired conflicted emotions. Some owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy, some died in defense of civil rights, and many were simply bystanders more concerned with their own peace and prosperity than with taking a political stance. The bystander’s legacy is the one with which Eisenfeld was surprised to find herself identified as a Northerner. As a result, she made a private commitment to increase her anti-racist political activities. Written in friendly, accessible, occasionally clunky prose—the author is a fan of extended compound adjectives such as “could-be-in-any-Jewish-home”—the book is geared toward an audience of readers much like Eisenfeld before she took her journey: curious, open-minded, and ready for an introductory plunge into more profound racial consciousness.

A digestible introduction to a specific piece of the history of the South’s racial politics.

Pub Date: April 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8142-5581-0

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Mad Creek/Ohio State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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