A chatty, informal narrative that weaves the Bible and other ancient stories together with contemporary lives, along the way...



A genial travel-journal-turned-spiritual-exploration that encompasses many of the sites (from the Dome of the Rock to the banks of the Nile) mentioned in the first five books of the Bible.

On a trip to Israel, Feiler (Learning to Bow, 1991) was struck “like a bolt of Cecil B. DeMille lightning” by the idea that in and around this land the real places visited by the patriarchs of the Bible still existed. How better to understand the book that connected him—a Jew from Georgia—to his ancestors than to stand in person on those same sites? Enlisting the aid of renowned Israeli archaeologist Avner Goren, Feiler began his odyssey in Turkey near the alleged site of Noah’s ark. Still in Turkey, they drove south (not as much walking as the title suggests) to an area where local—not biblical—tradition holds that Abraham spent his early life, with Goren identifying sites of digs and archeological discoveries. Their travels continued across the West Bank, back and forth through Israel, and into Egypt (“you can’t understand the Bible without understanding Egypt”) to follow the story of Moses. They rowed out on a body of water where the Jews of the Exodus might have crossed and continued across the Sinai (burning bush, Commandments, manna) and up into the Negev desert (40 years of wandering). At each sacred spot, Feiler and Goren whip out their Bibles to discuss the events and ascertain whether this is the place. Most often, the answer is “we don’t know.” And the response is “it doesn’t matter.” According to the author, the meaning of the biblical stories—whether the historical struggle of one civilization against another or the spiritual struggle of one people with their moody God—is virtually tangible in these places.

A chatty, informal narrative that weaves the Bible and other ancient stories together with contemporary lives, along the way uncovering a strong spiritual dimension that surprised the author—and may surprise the reader.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-380-97775-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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