Though far from a complete history and not a source of new material, the book achieves Harline’s stated goal of producing an...

A WORLD ABLAZE

THE RISE OF MARTIN LUTHER AND THE BIRTH OF THE REFORMATION

Looking back on the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

Harline (History/Brigham Young Univ.; Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary, 2014, etc.) acknowledges that biographies of Martin Luther, especially in this, the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, are quite commonplace. His own work, therefore, is written to introduce lay readers to the tumultuous events from 1517 to 1522, which shaped the Western world and Christianity from then on. This short period saw Luther transformed from an unknown monk into the most famous thinker in Europe, as well as the power of the Roman Catholic Church and its unquestioned papacy begin to slip away from parts of northern Europe. Harline tells this tale in a folksy style meant to draw readers into the world of 16th-century Europe, focusing less on stodgy facts and more on personal details. He begins with Luther’s move to the now-famed town and university of Wittenberg, where, under the influence of his mentor, Johann von Staupitz, Luther would come to a new view of salvation that countered much of what was taught by the church. It was his decision to take on the abuses of papal indulgences, however, that caused him to become a figure of both exaltation and contempt. In trying to purify the church’s practices, he ran headlong into the power of the pope. Nevertheless, regional politics, and a popular feeling among Germans that they were tired of Italian control, provided avenues for Luther to keep speaking and writing, whereas in previous generations, he may have been burned for heresy. Harline takes readers up to Luther’s return to Wittenberg after a period of hiding in Wartburg Castle.

Though far from a complete history and not a source of new material, the book achieves Harline’s stated goal of producing an approachable, worthwhile introduction to the beginnings of the Reformation.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-027518-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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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