A well-researched and engrossing analysis of 21st-century human crises.



A debut nonfiction book surveys the paradoxical role of religion in both fostering and hampering global peace.

Trained as a pilot at Pakistan’s air force academy, Saeed dedicates this work to two secondary teachers “who helped me understand the spirit of my religion” and to a flight instructor who taught him that aviation checklists were “not meant to be followed blindly, but rather with conscious discernment and thoughtful judgment.” Reflecting on a lifetime of experience from his South Asian upbringing, his education at the University of Michigan (where he was elected president of the student government), and his multidecade career as a global businessman, the author is more than aware that religion often exacerbates the “unprecedented existential challenges” humanity confronts today. Nearly half of all Americans, for example, view Islamic extremists and White supremacist Christian nationalists as threats. Alternately, the book suggests, religion’s “innate power to heal” means that it is vital to long-term solutions. Drawing on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for a “radical revolution of values,” the volume echoes the Christian leader’s warning against “the evil triplets” of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism. Central to the author’s thesis is that from the global to the individual level, religions and their institutions are intertwined with war, terrorism, and systemic corruption. With a firm command of global religions—from the three major Abrahamic faiths, Hinduism, and Buddhism to Indigenous African and Native American traditions—Saeed breaks down theological barriers by emphasizing common elements that lie at the core of human spiritual expression. Impressively researched with 80 pages of bibliographic entries and endnotes, the book employs an interdisciplinary approach that includes a sophisticated analysis of geopolitics and philosophy, in particular the ways in which Thomas Hobbes’ theory of “war of everyone against everyone” drives today’s societal structures. At 407 pages, the volume, with its detailed analysis of myriad issues from multiple religious, geopolitical, and philosophical perspectives, makes for a sometimes dense read. This meticulousness is balanced by an accessible text that deftly incorporates sacred verses from world religions and is accompanied by a multipage glossary of key terms.

A well-researched and engrossing analysis of 21st-century human crises.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 9781611535013

Page Count: 407

Publisher: Torchflame Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2022

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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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Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.


Everyone’s favorite avuncular socialist sends up a rousing call to remake the American way of doing business.

“In the twenty-first century we can end the vicious dog-eat-dog economy in which the vast majority struggle to survive,” writes Sanders, “while a handful of billionaires have more wealth than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes.” With that statement, the author updates an argument as old as Marx and Proudhon. In a nice play on words, he condemns “the uber-capitalist system under which we live,” showing how it benefits only the slimmest slice of the few while imposing undue burdens on everyone else. Along the way, Sanders notes that resentment over this inequality was powerful fuel for the disastrous Trump administration, since the Democratic Party thoughtlessly largely abandoned underprivileged voters in favor of “wealthy campaign contributors and the ‘beautiful people.’ ” The author looks squarely at Jeff Bezos, whose company “paid nothing in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018.” Indeed, writes Sanders, “Bezos is the embodiment of the extreme corporate greed that shapes our times.” Aside from a few passages putting a face to avarice, Sanders lays forth a well-reasoned platform of programs to retool the American economy for greater equity, including investment in education and taking seriously a progressive (in all senses) corporate and personal taxation system to make the rich pay their fair share. In the end, he urges, “We must stop being afraid to call out capitalism and demand fundamental change to a corrupt and rigged system.” One wonders if this firebrand of a manifesto is the opening gambit in still another Sanders run for the presidency. If it is, well, the plutocrats might want to take cover for the duration.

Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593238714

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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