An ambitious book that reaches too far.


The One and Only Face of Islam


A slim, energetic apologia for Islam.

Ghazi starts out by telling readers what his book is not; he writes that he intends “to reintroduce Islam, not defend it—because Islam defends itself.” Yet that’s primarily what his volume is: a defense of the faith against some of the charges most frequently brought against it. Among these are a number of familiar critiques—that Islam is anti-women and anti-science; that Islam doesn’t respect other faiths; that Islam is hopelessly fractured among fighting factions—which Ghazi addresses with varying levels of success. Ghazi’s is a kinder, gentler Islam than the one often portrayed in the Western press. It is a faith that honors women and provides for them. It is a culture that produced some of the great scientific minds of the medieval era. It is a tradition that reveres the holy men and women of other religions. And it is an ethic that condemns cruelty to animals. The greatest strength of Ghazi’s defense is its accessibility. He writes in unpretentious prose that welcomes readers in as he peppers his chapters with frequent, pertinent references to the Quran. His readings of Islam’s holiest text are neither simplistic nor arcane, and they are illuminating for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. However, his arguments are often too broad, and his language frequently outstrips his evidence. For instance, in his discussion of Islam and gender, Ghazi writes: “Muslim men and women have the same rights and duties. Women in Islam have every right that men have.” Yet his own material undermines this claim; for instance, Muslim men have the right to take four spouses while women may take only one. Further, men may walk in public unveiled; women may not. Later, he writes, “there are Muslim scientists…behind almost every invention.” That Muslims contributed to many scientific advances doesn’t mean that they were behind “almost every” one of them. Finally, his suggestion that “there’s only one kind of Islam” is patently false, as millions of Sunnis, Shiites and Sufis would attest.

An ambitious book that reaches too far.  

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1483696317

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2014

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


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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