BEYOND PSYCHOLOGY

LETTERS AND JOURNALS, 1934-1939

Madness and pathos alternate in these selections from the controversial psychoanalyst's (18971957) papers, which document the scientific delusions and personal difficulties that preoccupied him from the mid-1930s through his immigration to America on the eve of WW II. Because materials remain missing, this sequel to 1988's Passion of Youth: An Autobiography, 18971922 begins in 1934. In the intervening years of 192333, Reich's studies of the function of the orgasm and of genital sexuality's effects on character found him moving from psychoanalysis toward physiology and biology. Settling in Oslo, Reich put his radical political activism on the back burner while beginning a new program of experiments to examine nothing less than the fundamental energies of life. The excerpts from his journals and letters collected here form a streamlined narrative of his struggles to gain recognition for the theories to which this work gave rise. Reich believed that his insights represented ``the greatest discovery of the century.'' Readers need not be molecular biologists, however, to be skeptical of this claim: The laboratory jottings reproduced here seem like so much hocus-pocus. Meanwhile, Reich's ravings (``the living arises from the nonliving!!'') escape the lab to infect his accounts of a disintegrating home life. He can't seem to reflect personally on sex without proclaiming, ``My theory is correct!'' His children remain alienated from him, and his lover leaves him, but Reich consoles himself with the idea that his suffering is that of a man of genius. With his 1939 ``discovery'' of orgone, Reich seems to have gone over the edge for sure: ``I yearn for a beautiful woman with no sexual anxieties who will just take me! Have inhaled too much orgone radiation.'' At this point, the deepening shadow of Nazi expansion forces the Jewish and communist Reich's emigration to a credulous New York. Reich comes across as a crank, but a human figure all the same. Ideal material for a screenplay about a 20th-century mad scientist.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-374-11247-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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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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