Evangelicals will be delighted, and most readers will at least be intrigued.

PROPHET OF PURPOSE

THE LIFE OF RICK WARREN

Uncritical but detailed biography of one of America’s most influential living religious figures.

U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Sheler (Is the Bible True?, 1999) provides a needed overview of the life of Rick Warren, founder of the 25,000-member Saddleback Church and author of the mega-seller The Purpose Driven Life (2002). The author’s near-hagiography glosses over most of the criticisms of Warren, but the book is accessible and provides important background for anyone with an interest in the preacher. Beginning with a historical discussion of Warren’s Southern Baptist upbringing, Sheler covers Warren’s parentage and adolescence. An accomplished teenage preacher, Warren was ordained at age 21. After completing a seminary degree, he and his wife moved to Southern California to start a new church from scratch. Warren had carefully studied the urban American landscape for places to begin ministry and settled on the Saddleback Valley area of Orange County. Beginning with a small Bible study group he cobbled together upon arriving, he launched a church in 1980 that would reach an attendance of 200 in less than a year. As the Saddleback Church grew by the thousands during the ensuing two decades, so did Warren’s role in the American Evangelical landscape. From his work leading ministerial conferences on evangelism came the bestselling book The Purpose Driven Church, followed by The Purpose Driven Life, a publishing success of the first order. This new renown drove Warren into unexpected circles of influence, exemplified by such experiences as receiving a phone call from Benjamin Netanyahu while waiting in line at Starbucks, or delivering the invocation for Barack Obama’s inauguration. In the final chapters of the book, Sheler looks at Warren’s struggle to stay focused on ministry and to refocus in light of his success and fame.

Evangelicals will be delighted, and most readers will at least be intrigued.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-52395-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2009

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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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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