Unquestionably uneven, but if only 10 percent of the author’s claims are true, his report is still quite damning.

AMONG THE RUINS

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

A scathing examination of the Roman Catholic Church.

Journalist Williams (Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance between the Vatican, the CIA, and the Mafia, 2015, etc.) is an unabashed Tridentine Catholic: he rejects the authority of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the leadership that has followed it. In his latest exposé, the author explores the “good old days” of the church, the many forces that caused it to change, and what he sees as a downward spiral from the 1960s onward. A bizarre mix of solid analysis and conspiracy theorizing, the book is an evocative page-turner sure to turn heads. Williams begins with an overview of the pre–Vatican II church, an entity certain of its own superiority and intent on generational obedience and participation. A mixture of high finance, Mafia dealings, Freemasonry activity, and simple cultural change led to an attempt to redefine the church in the 1960s, a change Williams views as disastrous and irreversible for the spiritual lives of believers and for the temporal power of the church as an institution. Just when readers begin to see the author as a fundamentalist curmudgeon, however, he steers into on ocean of scandal to prove his point. The breadth of controversy is staggering, as Williams presents the Vatican as the center of a crime syndicate. From secret CIA funding to offshore bank accounts to Mafia family connections to episcopal embezzlement, the list of unholy activities is amazing. The author even supports a theory that John Paul I, who died just over a month after becoming pope in 1978, was murdered because he had decided to investigate the Vatican’s financial dealings. Topping it all off is a chapter on the pedophilia scandal and a final jab at John Paul II as a heretic. Though this is a work that screams out for rebuttal, it also raises innumerable questions about how a religious body can engender such grave controversy.

Unquestionably uneven, but if only 10 percent of the author’s claims are true, his report is still quite damning.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63388-303-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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