Despite a few odd turns, a refreshingly comprehensive inquiry into the hearts of humanity’s major faiths.


A broadly scoped synthesis of spirituality in the modern, multicultural world.

In his complex, wide-ranging multidenominational treatise, Naegeli says mankind might now be on “the evolutionary threshold of a new leap in spiritual consciousness.” His book undertakes a clearheaded examination of the world’s major organized religions, from the great monotheisms of Christianity, Judaism and Islam to Eastern religions such as Taoism and Buddhism. Naegeli lays out the basic tenets of these religions and seeks to find the common strands binding their inner spiritualties, asserting that a “Spiritual Platform” is needed to ground humanity through the trials of modern life. He insists that mankind is in need of “proper moral guidance” because “we are witnessing a moral decline in Western democratic societies”; worryingly, he continues, this moral decline is in part due to the fact that “the basic fabric of common ethical values is not the cornerstone of our economic and political system.” Throughout the book, his knowledge is deep, though he’s stronger on some subjects than others. The book’s representations of science, for instance, are questionable at best, from his claim that humans evolved from chimpanzees to the statement that matter and antimatter combined to create light. He writes that the more we see of the complexity and beauty of life, the more “plausible” it is that there’s a Creator, yet his depictions of the world’s various religions, though pleasingly detailed, can be uneven as well, especially when it comes to Islam, among whose “guiding moral principles” he finds puzzling notions such as “hate against other cultures/religions is prohibited” and “terrifying members of society is not accepted,” without offering scriptural citations. Nevertheless, the larger currents of Naegeli’s analysis compensate amply for such questionable bits, as does his search for spiritual common ground—his Spiritual Platform—for modern societies he sees as having unhinged from shared moral underpinnings.

Despite a few odd turns, a refreshingly comprehensive inquiry into the hearts of humanity’s major faiths.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499088502

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Nov. 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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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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