An excellent history by one of the most distinguished American religious scholars of our time. Marty is a professor at the University of Chicago and editor of the Christian Century. In this third installment in his Modern American Religion series, he explores the volatile wartime and postwar years, when American Protestantism enjoyed its renaissance and the Eisenhower administration saw fit to insert ``under God'' in the nation's Pledge of Allegiance. Marty calls recent revisionist scholarship to task by reminding us that while there were important dissenting groups during the 1950s, there was also a predominant WASP cultural landscape that dissenters were reacting against. Protestant hegemony was still very real, especially as Americans tried to unite themselves spiritually in the face of two historical crises: WW II and the Cold War. To achieve this unity, ecumenism was the spirit of the age, resulting in the rise of the World Council of Churches and other cooperative institutions. This study is impressively researched and the writing is free of jargon, though at times a bit dry. Scholars will appreciate the depth of detail that Marty offers here; not content to provide surface explanations for persons or events, he may have bent too far in the other direction by providing readers with a thorough background of every organization, theological position, and pivotal figure in the book. However, such thoroughness makes the volume a useful reference and will provoke important discussions on this oft-neglected period in American religious history. As Marty notes, it is often more difficult for Americans to understand their recent history than to grasp the more distant past. His volume will be an important link to retrieving the elusive America of McCarthy, the Cold War, and the Niebuhrs. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-226-50898-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998



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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