An unusual combination of rigor and implausibility.

A Hole in Science

AN OPENING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE

An unconventional reconsideration of the materialism that dominates modern science.

Debut author Christopher points out that the scientific community, despite its professed commitment to intellectual openness, has a fundamental prejudice: the idea that all human life can be explained on singularly materialistic grounds. He believes that such an explanation fails to account for some basic questions regarding the heritability of innate characteristics; for example, how precisely does DNA transmit cultural predilections? Analogously, how is it that some prodigies seem to be born with extraordinary, unlearned knowledge of a highly technical nature? Christopher persuasively suggests that a materialistic view falls short; the scientific establishment has refused to revise its views, he says, due in part to an irrational disdain for religion. He proposes an alternate theory that posits the existence of transcendental souls that have experienced multiple, reincarnated lives. He then focuses on ways in which the existence of such souls would explain previously irresolvable mysteries, including, he says, innate homosexuality. He then reexamines the relationship between science and religion; although science has been willfully blind to the explanatory power of religion, he says, religion has largely stopped interpreting itself through science: “In addition to their general and all-too-human tendencies toward rigidity,” he says, “I think the big problem facing religions in the modern world is simply their unwillingness to try to make objective sense of their beliefs.” This sentence is a good example of what’s right and wrong with Christopher’s effort: despite the book’s admirable philosophical thoughtfulness, its prose is often needlessly turgid. The author is at his best when exposing the scientific community’s stubborn reluctance to change course and the weaknesses of its regnant ideology. He cleverly employs transcendentalism as a response to these riddles, but his leap to reincarnation will strike most readers as going too far; one can criticize science’s blinkered prejudice and still extol the epistemological value of Occam’s razor. That said, it’s impossible not to be impressed with Christopher’s creativity or his command of scientific debates.

An unusual combination of rigor and implausibility.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

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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 author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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