THE HUMAN BODY SHOP

THE ENGINEERING AND MARKETING OF LIFE

Given the title here, as well as the foreword by Jeremy Rifkin (biotechnology's most ardent antagonist), readers are well advised concerning the content of this polemic by the policy director of Rifkin's Foundation on Economic Trends. Like Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald in Exploding the Gene Myth (reviewed above), Kimbrell rings the alarm against genetic R&D and, in general, the ``commodification'' of the body—the commercial traffic in human body parts. But unlike Hubbard-Wald, Kimbrell inveighs against all forms of buying and selling—including blood donations, organ transplants, artificial insemination, and surrogate motherhood. The author relates sad tales of exploitation of the poor for the benefit of the rich, together with some truly horrendous accounts of the trials and failures of infertile couples to achieve parenthood (raising a question about the extent to which humans will submit to such ordeals). The case is well and truly made for regulating, if not banning, the baby-broker business and assorted in-vitro fertilization laboratories. Elsewhere, however, we find researchers considered no better than exploiters and fast- buck artists out to use fetuses as transplant material or to produce babies to order—assuming, as Kimbrell does, that it's only a matter of time before genes for IQ or beauty will be found. The author concludes with a philosophical review that finds Descartes the culprit in reducing bodies to machines and that extols the virtue of gift-giving and reverence for the body. Kimbrell sends a meaningful message—but at the price of dismissing any good to come from genetics research in favor of pietistic nay-saying.

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-250524-6

Page Count: 357

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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 MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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