Earnest, passionate, and sure to ignite controversy, though it does so with a range of Islamic sources.

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THE SHADOW OF THE SWORDS

ISLAM, A RELIGION SPECIFICALLY FOR ARABS

From debut author Med, fiery polemic criticizing the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad, and the rise of Islam.

Med, who was raised Muslim, says, “No matter how many times people tried to explain things to me so I would understand, I did not easily accept those explanations, as they were illogical and I found many contradictions amongst the Quran’s verses.” In this extensive tome, he offers his research on “the ayat of the holy Islamic Quran and the Hadiths by Prophet Muhammad,” offering various criticisms of such works. Maintaining a heated tone throughout, he presents many examples on topics ranging from the role of women—particularly their oppression “under the shadow of Islam”—to the questionable prohibition of alcohol to the prophet’s controversial youngest wife, Aisha: “I personally believe that if the Prophet of Islam hadn’t forcefully claimed Aisha when she was only a child, then today’s young Muslim girls would never have to cover their hair and faces to protect themselves from those who follow in the footsteps of Muhammad.” Though the author hopes his book “contributes to the opening of doors which people thought were locked,” Muslims are sure to be offended in these 600-plus pages of honest, personal criticism—perhaps the kind that only a former adherent can muster. Med doesn’t pull any punches. At times, he addresses readers directly and offers specific directions toward further proof, as when he says, “If anybody wishes to know how the Muslims slaughtered non-Muslims and looted their property, money, and women, then they should read the Islamic sources and books written by al-Tabari and Ibn Hisham about the raid of Hunayn to learn more than I have written in this book!” Readers unfamiliar with the life of the prophet will learn a great deal from intriguing historical nuggets, such as a discussion of battles ordered by Muhammad. However, these lessons come with a highly skeptical tone: “What kind of God is this Allah who only wants four months of peace for humanity?”

Earnest, passionate, and sure to ignite controversy, though it does so with a range of Islamic sources.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496986030

Page Count: 606

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2015

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

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

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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