A concise and effective work about Islam as a religion of peace.

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DOES THE QUR'AN (KORAN) REALLY SAY THAT?

TRUTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ISLAM

A defense of Islam that challenges Western myths and stereotypes.

In his debut book, Elmi hopes to provide skeptics and critics of the Muslim faith with a scholarly and faithfully Islamic defense. One can argue that Western perceptions of Christianity as a religion of peace and democracy and of Islam as a religion of violence and war will inevitably only lead to future conflict. For this reason, Elmi focuses on Islamic beliefs regarding violence, war, and peace. Central to his argument is the notion that Westerners often “confuse Islamic teachings with the social and cultural practices within Muslim communities” and unjustly blame a religion of peace for the warlike actions of its worst adherents. He points out that Islam’s history features the acts of virtuous men and women, the forging of a sacred community, and the formation of organizations that promote social justice as well as warfare, persecutions, and violence—just as Christianity does. And just as contemporary Christians believe the Crusades to be counter to the message of Jesus Christ, Elmi notes, so too should the West distinguish between true, peaceful Islamic ideology and those who falsely act in its name. The author is cleareyed about the violence of history, but he’s also careful to emphasize the fair treatment of Christians and Jews in the early history of Islam. Elmi is at his best in later chapters, in which he defends verses from the Quran that seemingly endorse violence—and which are often cherry-picked by critics of the faith. By providing historical context and scholarly analysis, the author convincingly shows Islam to be a religion that “promotes peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims.” The book is written with a general Western audience in mind, so Islamic scholars will not find much that’s new here. However, non-Muslims will find an accessible, reasoned case against Western stereotypes.

A concise and effective work about Islam as a religion of peace.

Pub Date: May 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4808-7383-4

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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