A well-intentioned investigation of the failings of humanity that offers limited solutions.


Humans can alter their trajectory by rethinking their approach to sexual relations, argues this philosophical treatise.

“Imagine a world in which humanity cares for itself. That is what a fully sentient race would do,” writes Whickwithy in the introduction to this series opener. According to the author, humans have fallen far short of this mark. A key reason for this shortcoming, Whickwithy suggests, is that “mankind created stories to explain existence in order to comfort mankind’s desire for comprehension.” Belief in “myths” such as “Pandora’s Box” and the Garden of Eden have led to the ingrained belief that women are cursed. This in turn has impacted humanity’s behavior, specifically with regard to the subjugation of women through various forms of punishment, from misogyny to domestic abuse. Men’s approach to sex has also been damaged by this distorted perception of women. Men, according to Whickwithy, have a predisposition toward animalistic “rutting” as opposed to “loving sex.” The author advocates that an “evolution of awareness” can occur “by engaging eye to eye in a loving tangle”—this, in the author’s opinion, is a way to step beyond the instincts of animals and become “human.” Whickwithy’s message of “make love, not lust” has a built-in benevolence. The author argues the point in an erudite manner: “Our intellect continues to wreak havoc in the absence of the emotional stability provided by mutually satisfying sex.” Unfortunately, Whickwithy’s treatise contains some flaws. Most notably, the argument is never developed; rather, the author continually reiterates the point that “rutting” is mindless and damaging without supplying a satisfactory road map for change. Whickwithy’s thesis is limited in that it is founded on heterosexual relations and does not take into consideration other sexual orientations. The author is also prone to making sweeping statements without delivering supporting evidence: “Look at the statistics sometime. An optimistic estimate is that seventy percent of men are bad at sex.” Whickwithy’s writing is often thought-provoking, but the author’s argument lacks the necessary depth and scope to make a significant impact.

A well-intentioned investigation of the failings of humanity that offers limited solutions.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9971412-3-8

Page Count: 93

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2020

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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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