An eye-opening look at a fascinating era in Israeli history and what happens when a child is part of a sociopolitical...

WE WERE THE FUTURE

A MEMOIR OF THE KIBBUTZ

One woman’s remembrances of youth in the kibbutz.

Neeman was born in 1960 in Kibbutz Yehiam, a particularly vulnerable and nonarable piece of land when it was first settled in the 1940s. The author describes not only her own experiences of growing up in kibbutz culture, but also the violent and activist story behind the concept. In a socialist and humanist experiment quite removed from any religious connection to Judaism, the founders of the kibbutz were dedicated to communal living, which included the group-rearing of all children. Neeman, like all of her peers, only saw her parents for just under two hours per day. The rest of the time they lived in tiny communal groups—the author’s was called the Narcissus Group—which did everything together, from sleeping to showering, without regard for gender or individuality. While many of her early memories are bucolic and whimsical, there is a continual contrast to the utter violence into which the kibbutz was born and the threat under which it still lived throughout Neeman’s childhood. Located near the Lebanese border, Kibbutz Yehiam spent much of 1948 warding off sieges by the Arab Liberation Army, while a lack of food and water were also constant threats. Later, only through backbreaking labor was the land reclaimed from its original rocky character, allowing crops of bananas and other foods. Neeman left the kibbutz at age 12 to enter a collective educational institution, another twist in her story. Though the author is stoic in her attitude toward her youth, it is clear that the experiment in collective education left the children with great emotional and social gaps. Her narrative leaves an impression that she is still struggling to understand how this unusual upbringing shaped and affected her.

An eye-opening look at a fascinating era in Israeli history and what happens when a child is part of a sociopolitical experiment.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1356-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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