THE THEME IS FREEDOM

RELIGION, POLITICS, AND THE AMERICAN TRADITION

Discussion of the role of religion in the formation of the Republic becomes a soapbox for right-wing reimagining of American history by the chairman of the National Journalism Center. In his introduction, Evans lists among the titles his friends suggested for the project ``Everything You Were Ever Taught Was Wrong''—a situation he sets out to remedy. The so-called liberal version of US history distorts the role of religion, in particular Christianity, in the founding of the nation, he asserts; America was, and is, a Christian nation. The founders of our liberty were in his view deeply religious men (yes, men!) who sought to embody their faith in the principles of the new country, believing that religious precept was essential to freedom. Among his other points: Liberals, who would deny this nexus between religious values and our political system, distort the Bill of Rights provision that forbids a state-established church into a rigid wall of separation between church and state that allows them to ban prayer in public schools and to deride those who would seek to inject faith into public discourse. Such a distortion of the historical record also permits government intervention in economic affairs despite the fact that the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were firm supporters of private property and free enterprise. Far from being radicals, says Evans, those who engineered American independence were true conservatives, seeking to preserve the best elements of their Anglo-Saxon heritage while achieving political sovereignty. The great achievement of that heritage, to the author's mind, has been the imposition of limits on state power, a trend he claims modern liberals would reverse. This selective reading of history, complete with attacks on multiculturalism, will doubtless infuriate women, minorities, and those who consider themselves liberals. The religious right and true believers in Reaganomics, however, will cheer Evans on every step of the way.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-89526-497-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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

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