Inspirational stories of the miraculous, assembled from a wide range of settings by journalist and novelist Wakefield (New York in the Fifties, 1992, etc.). Not so long ago, the author asserts, it was a solecism to think that miracles take place or that anything that could not be observed and measured was real. Wakefield contrasts these attitudes of his youth with today's fascination with psychic powers and readiness to see miracles everywhere. He quotes research on how medical procedures have been affected by prayer and introduces us to Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist exponents of spiritual healing. Wakefield takes the position that ``miracles'' stand for the unexpected, even divine, possibilities that surround us every day and that will transform our lives if we only look for them. When he visits the famous Catholic shrines of Lourdes in France and Knock in Ireland, Wakefield finds a medical commission that performs careful evaluation of supposed miracles and an emphasis on personal, rather than bodily, healing; yet he also interviews a young mother who got up and walked in front of Mary's statue after being paralyzed with multiple sclerosis. A great many of his stories have no religious components and tell of such relatively ordinary occurrences as childbirth, escape from alcoholism, and chance meetings that changed lives. Wakefield provides a rather preachy commentary in which he is content to moralize, but he fails to address the vital questions that his stories inevitably raise, e.g., the relationship between the natural and the preternatural and the significant differences between the merely unexpected and the strictly miraculous. Lightweight and anecdotal exhortation meant to cultivate an attitude of wonder in daily life. ($40,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-069225-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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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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