Soulful and well-written, this will appeal to readers on spiritual paths of their own.



A thoughtful account of religious discovery.

Trauma, physical or emotional, often precipitates spiritual awakening. For Benedek (The Wind Won’t Know Me, 1992) it came in the form of a mysterious episode of near-blindness, followed by visits to doctors who mulled over possible causes—lupus, MS, Lyme disease—for the abnormal MRI readings their tests turned up. Marooned in Texas, where she had followed a boyfriend who turned out not to be the man of her dreams, and working as a television reporter against her writerly instincts, Benedek concluded that the disease was a matter of a troubled heart: “I feel,” she writes, “the cause of my illness was a deep psychic confusion, a rupture from myself. I believe that the cause of this illness was inside myself, in my psyche and in my soul.” Seeking solace, she turned to the wisdom of the Navajo people, among whom she had lived for several years, and to modern psychiatry as interpreted by one Dr. Andresen, whose cagey, idiosyncratic intelligence enlivens the middle section of her memoir. She also began to explore her roots as a Jew, finding a community of Orthodox believers in a Dallas suburb and continuing her studies on her return to Boston. That exploration was by no means easy, she writes, given her views as a feminist against various Orthodox traditions (such as the prayers of thanksgiving recited by men “for not having been born women”). Intellectually torn, she nonetheless reached a reconciliation. “I have come to a newfound respect for tradition, yet I am wary of strictures that impede individual creative strivings, particularly of women.” A subsequent trip to Israel, she writes, deepened her devotion to her faith—and, by good fortune, brought her new love as well.

Soulful and well-written, this will appeal to readers on spiritual paths of their own.

Pub Date: April 17, 2001

ISBN: 0-8052-4138-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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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 19, 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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