An impressively succinct biblical overview for Christian readers, written with warmth and concise insight.

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The Connection of Christ from Garden to Cross

A book that attempts to summarize the Bible from the Garden of Eden to the first church.

Betz, working from a 13-page document her mother created called “The Bible Overview,” tries to help readers understand the basic structure of the Scriptures and explain how she sees Jesus Christ as the link between its many sections. She begins by addressing what the Bible is, how it was written, and why, expanding on scriptural notions of divine inspiration and God’s connection with mankind. From there, she begins to build the “skeleton” of the Bible. She divides it into 12 historical periods and finds that most of its books fit into one of three categories: history, poetry, or prophecy. While sketching out these huge time spans, Betz summarizes the histories of biblical figures such as Noah, Moses, David, and her main focus, Jesus. After providing essential details, she returns to each section to “strengthen the structure by adding detail or meat to each historical period.” She also cites biblical or historical scholars, particularly when addressing the gap of time between the Old Testament and the New Testament and the life of Jesus, for which she provides the most detail. The appendix’s helpful charts and graphs offer biblical histories and lineages at a glance. For the most part, Betz fleshes out each section with her own interpretations and understandings: “The story of Samson,” she writes, “teaches us that God recognizes that we will fail. What is important to Him is how we choose to react to our failure.” The majority of her conclusions seem meant to provide brief, inspiring insights, not in-depth analysis. Many Christian readers will find Betz’s humor and relaxed tone to be personable and relatable, and they’ll identify with her conclusions and thoughts. Although this isn’t a rigorous historical study, Betz does offer up an easy, enjoyable way for Christians to reacquaint themselves with the basics of the Bible.

An impressively succinct biblical overview for Christian readers, written with warmth and concise insight.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4908-8642-8

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2015

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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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