A pointless parable whose message is, Everything you need to know, you can learn in the rose garden. John Blake, age 32, is an ostensibly brilliant ad copywriter who has lost his way in the world. Afraid of ``los[ing] the power to dream,'' he quits his job. His lofty dream? To run his own ad agency. He meets a reclusive millionaire, who utters sub-par bon mots such as ``Don't forget, you can do anything you really believe you can do'' and ``Once you start something you have to work hard.'' The millionaire (who made his debut in Fisher's first book, The Instant Millionaire, not reviewed) is a tender of roses and shows John how to look—really look—at a rose and emphasizes the importance of having faith. The mentor then imparts a mysterious box, just so John can also become rich—not just in spirit, but in cash. John starts his own ad firm and falls in love with his gorgeous assistant, Rachel. But the young disciple must undergo trials: The agency fails, his legs become paralyzed, he loses Rachel. But he starts getting the millionaire's message; he realizes his true goal is to write a screenplay and earn $250,000. (The millionaire aims a bit higher: His script must ``show that God rests in each and every one of us''—no doubt, a big seller in Hollywood.) With a bit of lying and manipulation (after all, John reasons, everyone does it), he sells his screenplay for . . . $400,000. And he reunites with Rachel, too, just in time to prevent her marriage to another man and to watch her give birth to his child. Inspiration confused with motivation, New Age spirituality mixed with old-fashioned ambition and greed. If this is the spirit of the '90s, one can only be grateful that the millennium is upon us.

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-80281-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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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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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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