Written for those who already share the author’s point of view, not for the larger number of Americans somewhere between his...



A less-than-convincing warning that the Christian right is trying to set up a theocracy in the United States.

Rudin, a retired U.S. Air Force chaplain, takes a hyperbolic approach, referring to Christian conservatives as “Christocrats . . . willing to sacrifice historic American freedoms and rights for a greater good: God’s plan for the United States.” An early chapter takes his home state of Virginia as a case study, describing two youthful encounters with religious bigotry, in 1942 and 1950, and a 1995 meeting with Reverend Pat Robertson as “events [that] defined for me in a personal way the goals of today’s Christocrats in America and the methods they employ to achieve them.” Rudin moves on to explain the differences among the various Protestant denominations; to explore the concept of evangelicalism within varying traditions; and to trace the Christian right’s move from political separation to political engagement in the 1980s. He also discusses the complex relationship evangelicals have had with the Jewish community. The book’s second half examines fundamentalists’ attempts to impose hard-line Christian beliefs on others within the context of varying “rooms”: the bedroom, the schoolroom, the courtroom, etc. Throughout these chapters, he provides examples of actions taken by the Christian right in the legal, legislative, educational and media arenas. Rudin has done a great deal of homework, but in the end he simply sounds like a member of one fringe group attacking another fringe group. The aggressive language he utilizes throughout—“the current American Civil War,” “Christocratic shock troops,” etc.—and his sky-is-falling tone make the author seem as unobjective, if not as unreasonable, as many of the evangelicals at whom he points a self-righteous finger.

Written for those who already share the author’s point of view, not for the larger number of Americans somewhere between his extremism and that of and the Christian right.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2006

ISBN: 1-56025-797-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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 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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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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