A readable, though also tendentious, foray into Jewish-Christian relations.



The operative word is the fifth one of the title: Why the Jews rejected—instead of killed—Jesus.

Klinghoffer (The Discovery of God, 2003, etc.) has a lot of well-meaning, goodhearted Christian friends who wonder why he, an observant Jew, doesn’t accept Jesus as his personal savior. This is an apologia, a 200-page answer, to those friends’ queries. The crux of the matter is that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t accomplish what “the promised Messiah had been advertised as being destined to do from Daniel back through Ezekiel and Isaiah and the rest of the prophets.” He didn’t, for example, rule as a successful king and establish world peace. Klinghoffer takes readers on a cook’s tour of Jewish-Christian history, showing not only why many Jews in the first century didn’t hop on the Jesus train, but also why Jews in the medieval and modern periods have resisted Christians’ often coercive, sometimes violent attempts to convert them. He has spiced up an otherwise historical account with the polemical claim hinted at in the Cahill-esque subtitle. If most first-century Palestinian Jews had accepted Jesus, then Paul would never have spread the Good News to Gentiles, and, in consequence, Christianity would have simply remained a Jewish sect and would have been overtaken by normative, rabbinic Judaism, eventually dying out. Europe, then, would have remained pagan, America might still be in the hands of indigenous people, and so on. This is all singularly silly, and its placement at the very beginning may well turn off some of the very readers Klinghoffer presumably wants to reach, his well-meaning Christian friends with their question about the Jews and Jesus as the Messiah. His book, to be sure, isn’t flawless. And that it does fill a real hole in the religion shelves, and that the fumes from Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christare sure to further pique readers’ interest, make its flaws all the more disappointing.

A readable, though also tendentious, foray into Jewish-Christian relations.

Pub Date: March 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-51021-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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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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