A generous and instructive book on working through relationships, with much to recommend for readers, whether they are fans...

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THE DHARMA OF THE PRINCESS BRIDE

WHAT THE COOLEST FAIRY TALE OF OUR TIME CAN TEACH US ABOUT BUDDHISM AND RELATIONSHIPS

A Buddhist approach to navigating key relationships with lessons from the cult classic film.

In this accessible and often inspiring new book, Buddhist studies teacher and author Nichtern (The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path, 2015, etc.) applies a contemporary understanding of Buddhist practices to the core foundations of friendships, romantic attractions, and family bonds, relaying how and why meaningful companionship can be essential when undertaking a path toward spiritual self-discovery. The author draws expansively from his own experiences with relationships and as a teacher of meditation and Buddhism, but he also attaches relevance to the evolving relationships explored in The Princess Bride. “The ‘dharma’ contained in The Princess Bride is all about relationships,” writes Nichtern. “The story offers a perfect canvas upon which to explore the three things that almost always take over the discussion when I teach Buddhism: the dharma of friendship, the dharma of romance, and the dharma of family.” In the first section, “The Dharma of Friendship,” he uses the film’s narrative arc and character development to convincingly illustrate how and why friendships form. In later sections, which deal with romantic attractions and family bonds, the author effectively engages readers with his ability to streamline complex Buddhist concepts and accessibly share authentic personal experiences. The author clearly has a deep affection for The Princess Bride and its characters, which provides a convenient platform for many of the concepts. Yet even for readers who may be unfamiliar with the film or are not die-hard fans compelled to rewatch multiple times, the strength of Nichtern’s Buddhist insights and overall content extend well beyond the film’s connection.

A generous and instructive book on working through relationships, with much to recommend for readers, whether they are fans of The Princess Bride or not.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-86547-776-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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