WHAT REALLY MATTERS

SEARCHING FOR WISDOM IN AMERICA

The road less traveled has by now become the beaten path, and Schwartz—reporting a recent and exhaustive spiritual trek—doesn't leave discernible footprints on it. Five years ago, at the publication party for Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal (which Schwartz coauthored), Schwartz decided he was ``riding the crest of the American Dream.'' Nevertheless, he wondered: ``Why, then, wasn't I happier?'' Not pausing to wonder whether a publicity bash in Manhattan's gaudy Trump Tower atrium would be anyone else's definition of the American Dream, the troubled, driven author reckoned it was time to seek a more gratifying inner life. The search for this grail led him to participate in activities mental and physical led by such familiar and less familiar personages as Baba Ram Dass (the former Richard Alpert), Timothy Leary, Abraham Maslow, Fritz Perls, Elmer Green, and Richard Price and Michael Murphy, founders of the Esalen Institute. Hopscotching the country, Schwartz meditated transcendentally, fed back bio-ly, and gave himself over to the Enneagram system, according to which he decided which of nine basic personalities he'd been locked into since birth and how to reconcile himself comfortably to that life sentence (he's a Six, dominated by fear). At the end of his five-year, 400-page-plus journey, Schwartz concludes, ``To live a complete life requires drawing deeply on all of one's potential—mind, body, heart, soul, spirit.'' This pallid epiphany means a great deal to him but won't come as astonishing news to a large army of others. Better, Schwartz might have tackled the subtler queries his book raises without answering: Why do so many Eastern philosophy gurus wind up sleeping with their gullible disciples? Why do so many movement shapers eventually repudiate much of what they've promulgated? Those most likely to benefit from this excursion in self-help might be those who recognize it as raw material for satire.

Pub Date: March 20, 1995

ISBN: 0-553-09398-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more