Outstanding anthology, drawn in part from The Biblical Archaeological Review and The Bible Review, that serves as a complete primer to what biblical scholar Harry Thomas Frank has called ``the most sensational archaeological discovery of the century.'' Shanks, editor of The Biblical Archaeological Review, has a flair for drama, evident both in the many essays here about the intrigue that swirls around the scrolls—spies, conspiracy theories, and shadowy antique-dealers all play their part—and in his two final selections. One of these is a reprint of the infamous newspaper interview with Harvard professor John Strugnell that led to Strugnell's ouster as chief editor of the scrolls on charges of incompetence and anti-Semitism; the other is a skewering by Shanks of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's recently published The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (not reviewed), which imagines a Vatican coverup in scroll research: Shanks calls the theory ``hogwash.'' Other essays juggle other hot potatoes: Was Jesus an Essene? Is the Temple Scroll a lost sixth book of the Torah? What light do the scrolls shed on Christianity and Judaism? Contributors range from world-class scholars (Frank Moore Cross, James C. Vanderkam, et al.) to journalists and filmmakers; in the midst of hot debate on the provenance and message of the scrolls, a clear consensus emerges—that the scrolls constitute an invaluable archaeological window onto the world that gave birth to both Christianity and rabbinical Judaism, but that they contain no bombshells that threaten tenets of either faith. Exciting and reliable, and thus a superb replacement for Edmund Wilson's pioneering but hysterical (and hopelessly out-of- date) 1955 bestseller, Scrolls from the Dead Sea.

Pub Date: July 27, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-41448-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1992

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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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