Having brought peace to the strife-torn Middle East in his last outing, Joshua and the Holy Land (1993), the mysterious Joshua returns to set his sights on an even more challenging task: reforming that Sodom-and-Gomorrah-on-the-Hudson—New York City. Joshua arrives, and as he walks up Broadway he encounters a young runaway named Charlene who has turned to prostitution. In the wink of an eye, he frees her from her pimp and convinces her that she should give up life on the streets and return to school. Continuing on with his new convert, Joshua enters Central Park, where he meets a woman who suffers from incipient Alzheimer's. One touch and she too is cured—and she agrees to adopt Charlene and send her to a suburban boarding school. Walking on alone, Joshua emerges on the far end of the park in Harlem. He plays basketball with a group of African-American youths who touch him with their good hearts and lack of hope. He begins teaching them the skills to start their own businesses, but, of course, it's not enough. Fortunately, the husband of the senility victim he healed is a wealthy developer, who out of gratitude now agrees to buy up and redevelop the entire neighborhood. Joshua's greatest miracle, though, is that in all this urban renewal no one is displaced. And so it goes: As the development project proceeds, Joshua roams about doing good, helping a mother's drug-addicted son, comforting a dying AIDS patient, battling the evil influences of the occult, fighting Satan in the guise of the mercurial Lucius Fabian, all the while spouting ever higher platitudes like a politician on a bad day. More blandly inspirational fare for Girzone's rather sizable readership.

Pub Date: April 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-385-47420-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1995



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


A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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