A liberating, transformative chronicle of how spirituality can foster inspiration and hope while emboldening the downtrodden...

A jail chaplain’s memoir of a life spent ministering to the prison populations of northwestern Washington.

Hoke relates his spirited tenure as prison pastor to incarcerated felons through the stories of those he has helped most. A restless, downtrodden youth growing up in Northern California, the author found the vocational “faith community” he’d been seeking after volunteering to co-minister to prisoners in a Skagit Valley, Washington, detention facility. Supporting himself with farm work, Hoke discovered his real passion behind the prison walls, where violent killers and desperate gangsters stared him down. Many of them actively participated in his Bible study class, and they eventually came to dub him their “pastor,” though he would remain unordained. Embracing the ecclesiastical journey through the bowels of a men’s penitentiary as his true calling, Hoke shares frank commentary and a collection of sobering anecdotes of the often mentally taxing time “learning to pray in a cathedral of tattoos and temporary release orders.” Whether selflessly fostering relationships between a solitary confinement inmate and his daughters, bonding with a former East LA Chicano gang member, counseling a schizophrenic, homicidal young man, or fly-fishing in Guatemala with ex–gang members–turned–volunteer chaplains, Hoke’s generous, unflagging spirit for these often hopeless inmates is an inspiring demonstration of the author’s dedication to his ecclesiastical calling. Some of the author’s behaviors, however, seem questionable, as when he illegally forged TSA initials on two immigrants’ boarding passes to get them on a flight. His later work with Christian ministry Tierra Nueva has served as a continuation of his mission to establish a long-lasting connection between the devotional and the criminally incarcerated.

A liberating, transformative chronicle of how spirituality can foster inspiration and hope while emboldening the downtrodden through their darkest days.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0062321367

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998



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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