Thorough and approachable.

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KOSHER NATION

WHY MORE AND MORE OF AMERICA'S FOOD ANSWERS TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY

An exploration of the evolution of kosher food and certification in the United States.

Freelance journalist Fishkoff (The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch, 2003) argues that kosher food has become more prominent because of a “perfect storm of increased religiosity, a strengthening of Jewish ethnic pride, and a growing obsession with healthy eating.” As evidence of its wide presence in the marketplace, she points to the “one-third to one-half” of all processed food that is certified as kosher and to the fact that 11.2 million Americans intentionally buy kosher food, with only 14 percent doing so because they keep kosher. Though people of many religious stripes and with various dietary preferences eat kosher food, Fishkoff focuses mainly on the Jews who produce, certify and consume it. Her interest is in how the meaning of “kosher” has changed and its popularity has increased in recent years. Kosher food has a definite spiritual meaning, but the author examines all aspects of the industry, from certifying agencies to kosher butchers to the effects of globalization, presenting general trends through anecdotes about individuals involved. This makes the book more relatable, but at times the anecdotes are repetitive and the transitions are sudden. Nonetheless, Fishkoff accessibly presents information about current trends and their historical precedents. She shows how definitions of kosher change in response to intra-Jewish developments—e.g., increasingly conservative religious practice—as well as to trends in America at large, such as industrial farming, the ascendance of big-box stores and ethical concerns like sustainable agriculture, animal welfare and working conditions. The author is careful to define all terms that might be unfamiliar to readers without a Jewish background, and she provides a helpful glossary at the end of the book.

Thorough and approachable.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8052-4265-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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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 MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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