A joy and a privilege to read.

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A PILGRIMAGE TO ETERNITY

FROM CANTERBURY TO ROME IN SEARCH OF A FAITH

From the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, a pilgrimage to find religion—or truth, or the way—that pleasingly blends memoir, travelogue, and history.

The latest from Egan (The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero, 2016, etc.) will make readers want to make a journey of their own. In a fascinating page-turner, the author chronicles his travels, mostly via foot but also via car and train, along the Via Francigena, a 1,200-mile medieval route that runs from Canterbury to Rome, where he sought an audience with “a pope with one working lung who is struggling to hold together the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics through the worst crisis in half a millennium.” Egan traversed this route in search of God or some type of significant spiritual experience. A skeptic by nature and Catholic by baptism, he realized that he needed to decide what he believes or admit what he does not. “I start [the journey] as a father, a husband, an American deeply troubled by the empty drift of our country,” he writes. “And for the next thousand miles or so, I will try to be a pilgrim.” Any pilgrimage is a rough test of faith and one of the most unpredictable and independent adventures on which to embark. Along for the ride on this quest are St. Augustine, St. Paul, Joan of Arc, St. Francis, and Oscar Wilde, among others. Egan’s Jesuit education inevitably crept into his mind during his stays at monasteries and visits to cathedrals to view their relics and learn about the events and myths that comprise their histories. Pope Francis, a man who embraces reason and promotes peer-reviewed science, brings the author a sense of hope after the church’s decades of inflexible leadership. Finding people and places warm and welcoming in each village and city, allowing himself to be amazed, lingering to rest blistered feet, and discovering soul-stirring spots—all this kept him pushing on, and readers will be thankful for his determination.

A joy and a privilege to read.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2523-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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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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