This learned and insightful approach to talking about God is a theological education in itself. Miles, a former Jesuit and member of the editorial board at the Los Angeles Times, undertakes here the audacious task of weaving the conflicting threads of God's self-revelations in the Hebrew Bible into an often-gripping story. Rather than attempting to synthesize his material, Miles allows his protagonist to develop and change over a millennium of relating to the people of Israel. Miles traces God's metamorphosis from creator to destroyer, friend of the family, liberator, lawgiver, conqueror, Holy One, and so on. Central to the story is Miles's contention that a monotheistic deity can only find self-expression through the mirror of communicating with its creation. Thus, Miles's God can be a loving but stern creator, disappointed enough in humans to regret their creation and seek to end their lives in a great flood, but merciful enough to begin anew with them time and again. In that complex interplay, Miles finds his central theme—God's eventual reconciliation with His creatures. Even when the story is at its nadir, with the people of Israel subjugated by the Babylonians and the Assyrians, God remains faithful and eventually seeks to include other peoples in the fold. The story is a fine one in most respects, but Miles tends to highlight the attractive parts of the portrait that have made their way into the American unconscious (such as the ``peaceable kingdom'' of Isaiah) while neglecting some of the messier ones (e.g., the attempted annihilation of indigenous tribal groups in ancient Israel). Also, structuring the story around the three-part progression of the Hebrew Bible (Law, Prophets, Writings) makes for a strong first two-thirds, but the last part is long and repetitive. A flawed but able telling of a story that's not easy to comprehend, much less articulate. (First printing of 35,000; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selections; author tour)

Pub Date: April 14, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-41833-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?



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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet