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Both erudite and intimate, Metaxas invites even the scoffer to wonder.

Biographer and cultural commentator Metaxas (Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, 2013, etc.) addresses the concept of the miraculous in a work both intellectual and personal in approach.

Early on, the author notes that miracles “point to something beyond themselves,” (namely, God) and that “a miracle is something that really only happens in context.” Furthermore, “When God pokes into our world through the miraculous, he is communicating with us.” With these parameters in mind, Metaxas sets about the task of strengthening believers’ understanding of miracles and, if not convincing nonbelievers, at least causing such readers to seriously consider his points. He begins with an exploration of life itself, concluding that humanity’s very existence is miraculous and beyond statistical probability. Metaxas gives science its due, respecting its methods and accepting such assumptions as the Big Bang. However, he notes that the existence of life on Earth is dependent upon a complex set of variables which, seen objectively, cannot be scientifically and mathematically explained away. Metaxas goes on to discuss miracles from a Christian, biblical perspective, concluding the first half of his work with the fundamental Christian miracle, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What Metaxas does next is intriguing. He presents a number of miracle stories, but instead of drawing upon historical or famous sources, he includes only stories from individuals he knows personally. The effect is to demonstrate that a wide range of miracles—or at least unexplainable happenings—can occur even among one person’s own circle of acquaintances. These stories, ranging from healings to visions, make the concept of the miraculous more real and personal. Metaxas cannot be said to have written a definitive work, nor did he set out to do so. However, he has taken a difficult and often controversial topic and presented it with clarity.

Both erudite and intimate, Metaxas invites even the scoffer to wonder.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0525954422

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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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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