Starr’s debut work of genealogy is an ambitious text that promises to deliver the secrets of Christianity.

The topic of biblical genealogy has always been vexed—so much so that Matthew and Luke, the only two evangelists that lay out Jesus’ lineage, totally disagree. Thus, when Starr introduces his book as a project that will delineate not only Jesus’ genealogy but that of King David, Mary Magdalene, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, the god Zeus and a host of other ancient figures, readers may believe that he’s bitten off more than he can chew. And they would be correct—the author’s list of genealogies comes off as arbitrary, speculative and unreliable. Starr admits early on that “almost all of the content of the book is from the internet,” and continues, damningly, “so the ideas may or may not be true.” The Internet is obviously a dangerous source, and he takes a great leap in using it as primary research material. But worse, his book is entirely undocumented—Starr does not provide his readers with a viable means of checking his facts. The flood of lists and crowded flowcharts rushes by with virtually no footnotes or parenthetical references. Further, the author spices this dubious information with seemingly unrelated reflections on nobility, Kabbalah and the philosophy of war. Starr delivers this frequently indecipherable religious hodgepodge in a stilted prose that is marred by occasional typographical errors and is almost totally absent of any transition sentences. It’s a rough ride that offers illumination but may instead confuse readers. Muddled and under-researched, Starr’s work would benefit from more explanatory text to provide clarity and unification.

Pub Date: June 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463517977

Page Count: 155

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2011

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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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