A complex but clearly written account of abstract scientific theory recommended for readers interested in new realms of...




In his absorbing, informative collection of essays, Tolkowsky (Homage to Stretcher Bearer, 2009) examines the connection between technology and metaphysics, focusing specifically on the history of flight.

From its beginnings, mankind has been fascinated with the idea of flying and the divine mystery of outer space. In the preface to this book, Tolkowsky speculates that “the problems that engineers apply their minds to and the solutions they find…are strongly influenced by abstract ideas.” He centers his essays on flight technology and metaphysics, based on the idea that man’s ability to fly “served as a starting line for an unfathomable wave of technological innovation and merging of technology with society in its broadest sense.” In Chapter 1, he examines how Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution affected the scientific and spiritual communities of the 19th century. He specifically details Russian scientist Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky’s theory of “Homo cosmiscus,” or the next stage of human evolution, in which man would biologically adapt to life in outer space. This concept of “space colonization” is continued in Chapter 2, comparing and contrasting how people in Russia and the United States have approached spiritual and engineering aspects of space exploration. In the third chapter, the author dissects the religious motivations behind mankind’s interest in space, specifically examining the tenets of pagan sun worship and its strong significance in modern religion and technology. The final chapter explains the early struggles of engineers, scientists and theorists seeking to build a flying machine. With the author’s previous experience as a combat pilot and aeronautical engineer, he clearly shows reverence and devotion to the subject matter. The book’s thesis is unusual yet intriguing, strongly supported with historical facts and developed smoothly from chapter to chapter. The prose is remarkably explanative, if sometimes repetitious, and never weighed down by excessive scientific terminology. Although some of the ideas may be difficult to fathom, the book is often engrossing; readers should be able to understand it without any previous knowledge of metaphysics or technology.

A complex but clearly written account of abstract scientific theory recommended for readers interested in new realms of thought.

Pub Date: July 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1629010021

Page Count: 118

Publisher: Inkwater Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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