A fascinating tour of the sexual fringes of our society, an inside look at worlds into which most of us will never seek or gain entrÇe. Starting with the notion that activities at the margins of society eventually move into the mainstream, and her belief that our society is simultaneously sexually promiscuous and repressive (as in politically correct codes of sexual behavior), Eurydice plunges into various circles of sexual deviancy, only to be amazed by the ordinariness of the individuals engaging in bizarre erotic behavior. “What they did in private might quality as abnormal,” she writes, “but they did not.” What begins as a kind of highbrow voyeuristic tour of the fringes turns into a compelling portrait of contemporary anomie as we are guided through the worlds of cross-dressing, sexual addiction, sadomasochism, cybersex, and even necrophilia. What we see is disturbing—priests who can—t overcome their sexual addiction, women who choose to be sex slaves in a S/M relationship, vampires reveling orgiastically in each other’s blood—but equally disturbing is the inner deadness that drives them to seek extreme forms of sexual activity. Of women who cut themselves as part of the sexual act, the author writes, “for those who wear their scars as “badges of honor,” . . . What I do find utterly disquieting is that its scars are advertisements for the invisible scars of an increasingly violent and hollow society.” “All I really want is to feel alive,” says one sex addict who has slept with more than a thousand men. Eurydice’s ponderings about what she sees are not always convincing; in writing about sex in the military, she is irritatingly attracted to the idea that sex and violence must be linked in men who are being trained for war. But at her best, she offers insights into the pleasures and dangers offered by contemporary society. This study of our sexual mores is far from erotic. It is illuminating, provocative, unsettling, dark, and disturbing.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-83951-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999



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


Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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