A welcome addition to the literature of the Shoah and of anti-Nazi resistance.

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THE LIGHT OF DAYS

THE UNTOLD STORY OF WOMEN RESISTANCE FIGHTERS IN HITLER'S GHETTOS

Resounding history of Jewish women who fought the German invaders in World War II.

The role of women in resisting the genocidal tyranny of the Third Reich has, like so much women’s history, been less well documented than the work of their male counterparts. Batalion, the child of Holocaust survivors, notes that an early role model for her was Hannah Senesh, “one of the few female resisters in World War II not lost to history,” who was captured and executed by the Germans, refusing a blindfold and “staring at the bullet straight on.” Discovering a Yiddish book called Freuen in di Ghettos (Women in the Ghettos) that had been published immediately after the war introduced the author to many other women fighters who contributed to the Allied war effort, whether by sabotaging German supply trains, smuggling weapons, spying for Russian military intelligence, or killing errant German soldiers. A stellar example is “Renia K.,” whose story, in Batalion’s hands, is lifted “from the footnotes to the text.” Eventually captured by the Gestapo, she was asked, “Don’t you feel it’s a waste to die so young?” She responded, “As long as there are people like you in the world, I don’t want to live.” Surprisingly, she survived, although her story and those of many others were reshaped for political purposes. Those women, Batalion convincingly argues, have often been misrepresented for just those reasons. Many were politically active before the war and even militant, espousing “Zionist, socialist, and pioneer values,” and some chroniclers have been reluctant to celebrate their work because doing so might unduly judge those who did not resist, “ultimately blaming the victim.” In a vigorous narrative that draws on interviews, diaries, and other sources, Batalion delivers an objective view of past events that are too quickly being forgotten—and a story much in need of telling.

A welcome addition to the literature of the Shoah and of anti-Nazi resistance. (20 b/w photos)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287421-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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 conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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