Misses an important mark or two, but passionately and cleverly champions the Catholic faith.

A CATHOLIC SURVIVAL GUIDE

A wide-ranging, playfully irreverent guide to 21st-century Catholicism.

An American generation raised on the stern televised nostrums of Archbishop Fulton Sheen will hardly be prepared for the tone and execution of this nonfiction collaboration from Mack Hicks (Social Self and the Social Desirability Motive, 2015, etc.) and debut author Andrew Hicks. And that dissonance is no doubt intentional. The Hickses are serious Catholic apologists using a wide array of disciplines and techniques to make their case for faith, citing everything from applied psychology to Bayes’ Theorem. Throughout most of their book, however, they also strive to leaven their deeper concerns with lighter tones. They mention, for instance, that people pay to talk with psychologists, whereas “confession is a safe place to disclose the private, inner self, and Catholics get it for free.” This empirical approach can have pitfalls—the authors’ overview of arguments for the historicity of Jesus, for instance, is wobbly as is their assessment of the famous Shroud of Turin. But the sheer energy of the overall defense on broader subjects compensates quite a bit for the occasional factual lapses that can occur in religious apologia. On the notorious Catholic sex scandals, readers may be surprised to find a mild response. The authors counsel both a more nuanced reading of the Church’s (ultimately faulty) attempts to rehabilitate offending priests and, even more controversially, an avoidance of “hysterical” reactions. The authors are particularly clear on defending the record of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular throughout history as a progressive force in defense of intellectual inquiry and a more ethical treatment of women than other options throughout the ages (“Both Plato and Aristotle endorsed infanticide,” they write, “and guess which gender they were eliminating?”). Catholics especially will treasure such an upbeat defense of their world.

Misses an important mark or two, but passionately and cleverly champions the Catholic faith.

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Splenium House, LLC

Review Posted Online: July 18, 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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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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