A scrupulously intellectual but enormously conservative program for restoring “traditional morality.”

Confronting Sexual Nihilism


An elaborate, prudish philosophical program for combating the moral meaninglessness of modern life.

Kielkopf, in his debut, painstakingly analyzes the ways in which he views the sexual permissiveness of our modern era to be at the root of a great deal of anomie. Concentrating exclusively on matters of sexuality, he claims that humans reach their personal bests only when embracing what he refers to as “traditional morality.” Kielkopf is well-versed in Kantian philosophy and echoes some of Kant’s precepts in the realm of personal responsibility: “The power of our sexuality is our power and we use it well or poorly,” Kielkopf writes. At the crux of his thesis is something he calls the Paternal Principle, by which men exclusively have monogamous sex with a single female partner solely for the purposes of procreation; only through the Paternal Principle can humans maintain “a proper moral character.” Conversely, Kielkopf claims that all deviations from this principle—infidelity, masturbation, recreational sex and homosexuality among them—are “immoral” and lead to “sexual failing.” A good portion of the book centers on homosexuality, a moral deficiency that offends Kielkopf; he advocates a “keep it in the closet” approach in which the subject returns to never being mentioned or discussed in public. The book offers few facts about sexuality but many proscriptions, and despite the Kantian trappings of Kielkopf’s treatise, readers may recognize most of those proscriptions from an entirely different source: the Bible. “Strictly speaking,” he writes, “this is not a Christian book,” but in almost the same breath, he writes, “I am writing to prepare the soil for re-introduction of the Gospel.” In fact, Kielkopf expounds what could be construed as a close approximation of old-fashioned Roman Catholicism—the book is dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI.

A scrupulously intellectual but enormously conservative program for restoring “traditional morality.”

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1629940496

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2014

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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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