A starkly direct but sometimes-puzzling series of Christian reflections and exhortations.

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WALKING IN THE POWER OF THE ALMIGHTY CREATOR

A debut faith memoir delivers an emphatic and unusual perspective.

In his book, Gonzalez lays out his religious credential right at the outset. In the spring of 1994, while he was a student at City College of San Francisco, he claims he had “a real-life, physical encounter with the being known as the Creator.” The memory of this face-to-face meeting naturally changed the author’s life and filled him with an unshakeable confidence in his own faith —an assurance he’s eager to impart to his readers. “If you have ever wondered if the Creator of the universe exists and if He is even real,” he writes, “I am here to tell you that He is very real and really does exist because I have personally met Him, and it has changed my life.” This account sets the tenor for the rest of the work, in which Gonzalez relates his many subsequent interactions with the Christian God and offers advice and encouragement to readers seeking such dealings themselves. Building on the fervor of that initial encounter, the book presents a series of exhortations and insights into the nature of the Christian experience. The author outlines three basic steps to creating a more direct communication with God—pray regularly, read the Bible, and keep the Creator always in mind—and he elaborates on this program in short, clearly written chapters of easygoing prose filled with plenty of personal ruminations. Some of Gonzalez’s descriptions of his subsequent divine encounters may strike some readers as almost comically trivial—a gate "miraculously opened up for me right before my eyes" during a train trip from Oakland to San Francisco (the author compares the event to the parting of the Red Sea). Occasionally, they’re more baffling (God "allowed" an injury to the hand Gonzalez’s father used to beat his children instead of simply changing the man’s heart and leaving him unharmed). But the author’s call to selfless service will resonate even with readers who may doubt the particulars of its origin story.

A starkly direct but sometimes-puzzling series of Christian reflections and exhortations.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973653-95-0

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2020

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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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