A provocative, revisionist interpretation of the Bible, vitiated by hyperbolic overstatement.


An argument for a fuller conception of the biblical God, emphasizing the deity’s fearsome judgment.

Debut author Yohn contends that the prevailing understanding of God today is a sanitized one. The emphasis on God’s love, tolerance, and mercy, he says, comes at the expense of acknowledging his unyielding demands for obedience and his promise of eventual judgment. Instead of looking to the deity for authoritative guidance, the author notes, far too many people rely upon their own vacillating opinions as their primary moral compass: “people speak what they want to believe is true about the Lord instead of how God has disclosed himself to them.” However, according to Yohn, it’s impossible to truly understand God, or navigate an often dark world, without accepting that one’s life culminates in a verdict on one’s earthly rectitude. The author scours the Bible to defend his depiction of God and discusses various ways in which one can interpret the titular fear. He also provides textual evidence for his view that God’s ultimate judgment is inevitable, and not one to be understood in allegorical terms. In Yohn’s interpretation, life is largely a morally grim trial, and the only hope for mankind is submission to God’s will. The author makes a compelling case that the biblical God is a more complex figure than often surmised, and that some Christian denominations whitewash the Bible’s austere worldview. However, a more sustained analysis of the differences between the depictions of God in the Old and New Testament seems in order, as well as an expanded discussion of biblical hermeneutics. Also, the author can be remarkably strident in his conclusions, labeling dissent “nonsense” and defining a “psychologically healthy person” as one who’s obedient to God.

A provocative, revisionist interpretation of the Bible, vitiated by hyperbolic overstatement.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973615-21-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2018

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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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