An inspiration to peace activists in all theaters of war and struggle and a book that deserves a wide audience.

THE WORDS OF MY FATHER

LOVE AND PAIN IN PALESTINE

Bashir delivers an urgent, impassioned call for peace between Palestine and Israel.

The words of the Palestinian peace activist’s father are, on the surface, incontestable: Strive for peace, he insisted, for “violence only leads to more violence.” Yet, during the second intifada and in the face of the intransigence of Israel’s government in dividing the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and barring movement between the two Palestinian areas, striving for peace became a difficult proposition to hold up—and one that was particularly difficult to defend in a time of growing militance. By Bashir’s account, the plot of land that his educator father had so carefully improved, building the soil, planting trees by the hundreds and crops by the row, became a dust bowl under a de facto Israeli siege. Moreover, an Israeli soldier shot him for reasons that he finds inexplicable today, paralyzing him for a long period and requiring multiple surgeries. Years later, writes the author, even as he mourns the passing of his father and the loss of the land that his father took pains to tell him was his forever, he found himself thinking obsessively of that transformational event and the Israeli soldier behind the gun. “That single shot had changed my whole life,” he writes, “and I wondered if it had changed his.” In the end, the story comes full circle, as Bashir travels the world to convey the message of peace in the Middle East, the bullet in his back, as he puts it, moving him forward and not restraining him. There is some bitterness nonetheless, especially when he recounts that Israeli soldiers commandeered all the cooking vessels in his family home and then left them behind, each full of feces. Even with that insult, in this eloquent and affecting memoir he adopts another remark of his father’s as his own: “What happened to me makes me believe even more in peace.”

An inspiration to peace activists in all theaters of war and struggle and a book that deserves a wide audience.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-291732-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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