More than 70 years later, Frankl’s philosophy still inspires.

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YES TO LIFE

IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING

Published for the first time in English translation, these speeches introduce the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor’s belief in the essential meaningfulness of life.

Frankl gave these three lectures in Vienna in 1946, just nine months after his liberation from a concentration camp. Together, they offer a condensed primer to his best-known work, Man’s Search for Meaning (1946). Known as “logotherapy,” Frankl’s approach aimed to help suicidal people find meaning through creativity, love, and suffering. This was no mere intellectual construct but a pattern he observed in his patients and manifested in his own life. Fatalism is overcome, Frankl insists, by individuals creating meaning. However, this is more complicated than achieving contentment, for in a “balance sheet” view of life, bad moments outweigh good ones. Therefore, happiness cannot be the goal, he argues. Instead of asking “What can I expect from life?” he advocates flipping the question to “What does life expect of me?” Joy comes from fulfilling that duty. He gives the real-life example of a man being sent away for a life sentence: Frankl expects the prisoner would then have deemed his existence meaningless, yet when fire broke out on the prison ship, he saved 10 lives. From this, the author concludes that “none of us knows what is waiting for us” and so suicide is “the one thing that is certainly senseless.” Furthermore, illness and suffering offer opportunities for spiritual growth, whether through resistance or—if death is inevitable—acceptance. Frankl cites a terminally ill patient who could no longer work but found meaning in reading, music, and conversation. To modern readers, many of the sentences may seem convoluted while the oral format accounts for slight repetition. However, the case studies are relatable and the overall viewpoint convincing. Psychologist Daniel Goleman’s introduction, though overlong, gives useful context.

More than 70 years later, Frankl’s philosophy still inspires.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0555-2

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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