An important contribution to American religious history.

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GOD OF LIBERTY

A RELIGIOUS HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Intriguing look at the role played by faith in America’s movement for independence.

Though books about the faith lives of America’s founders are abundant, Kidd (History/Baylor; The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, 2007, etc.) finds a useful niche by exploring how religion affected the American Revolution itself. Without the various roles and uses of religion, the revolution would have gone quite differently, if it would have come about at all. The author points to two disparate precursors of the independence movement: the Great Awakening of the 1730s and ’40s and the Seven Years’ War (1756–’63). He describes the Great Awakening as the “first American revolution,” as it began an overthrow of traditional church-state relationships. Through the Awakening, state-supported churches came under severe attack as lay preachers rose up and dissenting churches became ever more popular. As state-supported churches lost power and prestige, so too did the colonial structures behind them. This was a movement that would carry on past the revolution. Kidd writes that “for religion in America, disestablishment would prove to be the most significant political outcome of the Revolution.” The Seven Years’ War expanded religious sentiment in the colonies, stirring up an anti-Catholic hatred that was used with surprising effect against the British monarchy. The war also instilled an apocalyptic viewpoint among many colonists, which was easily turned against their occupiers. The author also discusses the importance of virtue to the founders and its role in establishing the nascent federal government, and examines other aspects of faith, including chaplains in the war effort and ethical arguments over slavery. Kidd ends fittingly with a look at Tocqueville, who was the first, and perhaps best, observer of American history in comprehending the role of faith in the creation of the American experiment.

An important contribution to American religious history.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-465-00235-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: July 8, 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 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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