Possibly life-changing ideas supported with extensive sociological research, lively storytelling, and contagious jollity.

THE POWER OF STRANGERS

THE BENEFITS OF CONNECTING IN A SUSPICIOUS WORLD

After a year of quarantine and masks and years of severe political division, journalist Keohane shows us why it’s vital for us to come together.

"You cannot hope to be a good citizen,” writes the author in his first book, “you cannot hope to be a moral person, if you do not first make an effort to see that the world is a very different place for the person sitting next to you. That their strangers are not necessarily your strangers. And the way to understand this, across social boundaries, or racial boundaries, or ideological boundaries, or any other boundary that has been thrown up to keep us apart, is to talk to them.” Keohane seeks to teach readers how to have those conversations. Joining him on his adventures—e.g., cross-country train trips, seminars abroad—after a year in lockdown is a strange experience at first, but by the end, it makes the prospect of reentry even more exciting. Reading this book is like taking a college course that becomes a cult favorite because the witty, enthusiastic professor makes the topic seem not only entertaining, but essential. Keohane has some of the mannerisms of that popular professor—e.g., describing the process as “our journey”—and liberally dousing the data with asides and wisecracks. When he quotes Jane Goodall on grim similarities between marauding chimps and humans, a footnote reads, "Say what you will about us, but, in our defense, we do generally manage to refrain from eating one another's newborns." In an earthy retelling of the Old Testament, Keohane characterizes Jesus' origins in "motley, rowdy" Galilee with its "mix of Jews, Samaritans, Greeks and Syrians, living shoulder to shoulder": "Sort of like the Messiah coming from New Jersey." And why the Old Testament? Apparently, it has plenty to say about strangers, as do the members of a huge cast of memorable characters ranging from experts to homeless people all over the U.S. and Europe.

Possibly life-changing ideas supported with extensive sociological research, lively storytelling, and contagious jollity.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984855-77-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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