A collection of meditative essays that should appeal to devoted Christians.

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SIDE ROADS, SNARES, AND SOULS

In a collection of personal essays, a forester reflects on a spiritual life lived in nature. 

Antill (Faith, Fur, and Forestry, 2010, etc.) has worked as a registered forester on the Atlantic coastal plain for 30 years, and he’s led a life devoted to appreciating the great outdoors. His work in the swamps often inspired him to reflect upon his Christian devotion, he says, and in this slim volume, he collects 24 essays drawing connections between nature and faith. The short vignettes all follow a similar formula: Antill recalls an experience that he had as a forester, and then articulates a metaphorical connection between it and a passage or story in the Bible, or a more general Christian concept. For example, a discussion of a dam gives way to a reflection on the metaphorical ramparts that one must construct to defend against Satan’s assaults. Similarly, a remembrance revolving around the safe use of a chain saw leads to a characterization of Scripture as life’s authoritative safety manual. As the book’s title suggests, the author’s overarching metaphor equates our journeys as human beings with a long trek through the wilderness, fraught with dangers and detours, although Antill never makes it unambiguously clear what precisely threatens us today. The author is a gifted storyteller, though, and his prose is genially folksy, charmingly self-deprecating, and occasionally wry: “Fish swim. I know that, I went to college.” Also, his depictions of working in the swamp will be relatable to inveterate enthusiasts of the outdoors and fascinate uninitiated urbanites. Still, Antill’s metaphorical conceits can be more than a touch contrived; one chapter, for instance, begins with what amounts to poetic overreach: “The beaver has a lot in common with Proverbs chapter 7.” The author’s earnest desire to teach and encourage can also flirt with didacticism at times. 

A collection of meditative essays that should appeal to devoted Christians. 

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-8596-8

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2018

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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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