British journalist Wilson has built a career around the Turin shroud (The Mysterious Shroud, 1986) and other religious arcana (The After-Death Experience, 1989, etc.). Astonished by the 1988 carbon-dating findings that the shroud—which carries a life-size image of a crucified man popularly believed to be Jesus—appears to be a medieval forgery, Wilson now turns to the puzzle of where and when the idea of an ``imprint of Jesus'' on cloth originated. After an informative romp through the halls of Christian art, he winds up where he started, suggesting that—lo!—the ``discredited'' shroud is in fact the key. The most important clue traced by Wilson is that of the ``Veronica'' face. Legend has it that shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus left the image of his face on a cloth given to him by St. Veronica. Would-be ``Veronicas'' abound; the most impressive—unseen by Wilson, but not for lack of trying— reportedly lies in a secret chamber in one of the piers supporting St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Wilson untangles the knots within knots that bind the history of the Veronicas, concluding that their origins lie in a much earlier relic (pre-1000 A.D.) known as the ``holy face of Edessa,'' which may in turn be none other than our old friend, the Shroud of Turin. But how can this be? As Wilson demonstrates, carbon-dating is terribly inexact, especially when contaminants (one major fire and centuries of candle-smoke, not to mention the tears of believers) have corrupted the object under study. Conclusion: the Turin shroud lives, ``part of a cosmic drama not yet played out.'' Admirable for its doggedness, scholarship, and sensitive handling of a real hot-potato.

Pub Date: July 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-385-26105-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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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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