Good reading and an excellent tool for interfaith dialogue.

READ REVIEW

GOD IN THE QUR'AN

A unique comparison of the Bible and the Qur’an.

Pulitzer Prize winner Miles (Emeritus, English and Religious Studies/Univ. of California, Irving; Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, 2001, etc.) approaches the Qur’an with respect and curiosity while acknowledging the fact of his roots as a Christian believer and scholar. He sets out to discover who God is in the context of the Qur’an and how God interacts with humanity. Part of the author’s motivation is to bring readers closer to an understanding of their Muslim neighbors and how they may view Allah through scripture. Miles studies the Qur’an alongside the Jewish/Christian Bible, comparing and contrasting how the two holy books—and, by extension, the religions they undergird—view deity. “We must learn,” he writes, “to read one another’s scriptures, be they secular or sacred, with the same understanding and accommodating eye that we turn upon our own.” The author focuses on characters familiar to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus, all of whom appear in the Qur’an with stories far different from those that appear in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Miles discovers an author, Allah, who is interested above all else in the conversion of individuals and nations. His all-consuming interest is for his creation to believe in him; to that end, he “corrects” prior scriptures that record the tales of the precursors to Muhammad in a differing manner. Noah is not singled out to be saved so much as he preaches the message of Islam to unbelievers. Abraham is less the father of a nation than he is an ultimate example of a good Muslim, submitting to God’s word. Jesus is not a figure of redemption, sacrificing himself for others, but instead a prophet and an example of submission. Ultimately, the author has produced a thoroughly readable, literary, and astute approach toward understanding Allah, as God, through basic literary criticism.

Good reading and an excellent tool for interfaith dialogue.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-307-26957-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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