A thoroughly researched, if highly speculative, interpretation of near-death accounts.

Living Beyond


Rudolph (Eyre: The Forgotten Explorer, 2014, etc.) explores the phenomenon of near-death experiences through a Christian lens in this religious work.

When Rudolph was a boy, his father had a heart attack and underwent a near-death experience that he described as “wonderful.” Ever since, the author has been fascinated by the phenomenon of NDEs, which he has pursued, at various times, as a university student, a Christian, and a writer conducting independent research. Culling from thousands of NDE accounts from people around the world, Rudolph has formed an understanding of them based on his own Christian faith. As he sees it, “an NDE is a spiritual gift from God to act as a personal course correction; it is a learning experience during a brush with death.” Rudolph analyzes the reports of numerous individuals who have undergone NDEs (both religious people and atheists), searching for commonalities and attempting to establish the parameters of the process. He uses Scripture and the works of religious thinkers to hypothesize how these processes relate to the movement of the spirit and the soul, and how different types of NDEs might represent different messages delivered from God. Rudolph then extrapolates how the visualizations encountered during NDEs can tell readers much about the structure and nature of the afterlife, even down to the music, boundaries, and the absence of ethnicity in paradise. Rudolph writes in clear, conversational prose, quoting widely from the many chronicles he has collected. Those interested in the NDE phenomenon may appreciate the author’s take, but its fundamental religiosity will likely vex those of more skeptical or secular dispositions. In addressing something so difficult to explain or quantify, Rudolph comes across surprisingly confident in his NDE model and its religious implications. The excitement surrounding NDEs is due in large part to their suggestion that there is something on the other side of death. But Rudolph’s book proves that because readers still can’t know exactly what that something is, they are free to project upon it whatever afterlife they wish to imagine.

A thoroughly researched, if highly speculative, interpretation of near-death accounts.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5127-1697-9

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2016

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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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