A fervent compilation of thoughts on God, politics, and religion.



A deeply religious debut book offers advice and insights on how to live a faith-based life.

In his abstract work on religion and spirituality, Muza strings together a series of short sections featuring his reflections on how to get closer to God in one’s daily life. The text resembles a lyrical essay and integrates elements of poetry and self-help books. There is no narrative arc in these pages. Rather, the volume is more akin to a collection of aphorisms or an exploration of Muza’s own religious philosophy. In fact, the About the Author section reveals that he “composed numerous religious gospels” before his eyesight failed. In some passages, the author discusses the path to success. In the section “The Gospel,” he writes: “Go to bed and hold a piece of bread in your heart, and then you will have Jesus when you awake. An unforgiving spirit holds back the power in your life. Right thinking opens the door to success.” Other times, Muza dispenses general advice, as in the section “Forgiveness,” when he urges his audience to “be slow to anger and quick to forgive, and you will have friends as long as you live.” Much of the book is dedicated to connecting Muza’s political and religious beliefs, some of which are controversial. He tells readers: “Abortion is a mortal sin. Our moral values are out of control. Families are being destroyed….Sin flourishes, running rampant. It’s Sodom and Gomorrah all over again. Armageddon is at our door.” In another instance he writes: “Rock music and artists pledge their lives to the destruction of family values and mortals, promoting sex, violent acts, and drug experimentation. Youth crazes that seem innocent and cute—Pokemon, Digimon, Teletubbies, Harry Potter, video games, Furbys, action figures, and toys—are evil.” Some readers may disagree with his strong views on these issues. Eventually, his voice softens and he makes a point that many readers should embrace: “To make yourself whole, do something that is good and unselfish.” While the book meanders at times, readers who share the author’s political and spiritual beliefs should find some useful advice.

A fervent compilation of thoughts on God, politics, and religion.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0466-7

Page Count: 164

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

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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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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.


New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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