A fine introductory text for readers with a budding interest in secular ideology.


Seeing through Christianity


A broad argument against the ideological and historical validity of Christianity.

In his first work, Zuersher outlines his case against the Christian faith by breaking the religion into its key components and discounting each one in turn. Divided into two sections, “Beliefs” and “Evidence,” the book attempts to reveal the contradictions, inconsistencies, and impossibilities he identifies in the Bible and its history. To do so, Zuersher relies heavily on one analytical strategy: he lines up rhetorical straw men then promptly knocks them down. Consider this example from the chapter “Purpose”: “A popular minister wrote, ‘The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God.’ This makes no sense….To whom was it necessary to reveal or exhibit the god’s magnificence?” In this fashion, Zuersher moves with efficient, textbook precision through a comprehensive range of subjects, dedicating five to 10 pages to each. The “Beliefs” section explores everything from the specific actions of Satan to the philosophical problems in any faith-based belief system, while the “Evidence” section thoroughly picks apart the process by which the Gospels were written. The sections are easy to read because of Zuersher’s direct prose, but one occasionally wishes the author would linger on subjects a little longer. At the end of the chapter on faith, for example, Zuersher remarks, “a god who gives revelation to one person could, if he were omnipotent, give the same revelation to everyone.” While this is certainly a defensible claim, it would be stronger if weighed against more counterarguments and subjected to greater critical analysis than Zuersher includes in the chapter. The points are solid, but it’s difficult to entirely discredit the concept of faith in one short chapter. Still, Zuersher investigates enough theological doctrine and historical research to offer a serviceable argument. It may serve as a first step for those just beginning to feel out their doubts in Christianity. Some of Zuersher’s arguments, particularly in the latter “Evidence” half of the book, offer valuable historical context on Christianity’s early days.

A fine introductory text for readers with a budding interest in secular ideology. 

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4990-1848-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2016

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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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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