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A thought-provoking, intelligent reconceptualization of supernatural events.

A religious historian and a popular fiction writer and mystic collaborate to adopt unexplained phenomena into the realm of natural occurrences.

Best known for his graphic depictions of alien abductions and otherworldly encounters (his own included), Strieber (Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is to Come, 2012, etc.) pairs up with Kripal (Religion/Rice Univ.; Comparing Religions, 2014, etc.) to produce a cohesive reframing of the “pantheon of the unknown” through the lens of the natural world. To accomplish their “apocalypse of thought,” both authors worked in tandem, intertwining their unique perspectives, experiences, and educational backgrounds. They explore Strieber’s legacy, the development of alien folklore, and the logical debate on how the American government’s skepticism and secrecy surrounding UFOs only propagates their mythological potential. Kripal’s broad religious comparisons and his intellectualization of unknown phenomena from a spiritual perspective complement Strieber’s menacing laundry list of what haunts him most, from his many sinister encounters with nonhuman entities to a medically mystifying, nonremovable ear implant, a beautiful ghostly temptress, and gargantuan pulsating spiders hovering above his bed. Appealing to his already established readership, these unsettling anecdotes indeed make this a Strieber book, but Kripal’s religious assessment of sex and gender is similarly provocative. Lucid and convincing, the writers’ volleying hypothetical interpretations of how “to embrace science in a new way” implore that it’s not necessary to believe in the supernatural in order to study it and to comprehend its validity or its possibilities or impossibilities, yet much work remains to elevate it beyond perpetual public mockery. Though Kripal implores that “we are all embedded in a much larger, fiercely alive and richly conscious reality,” perhaps the best counsel for dogmatic debunkers can be found in the book’s appendix, which kindly suggests that everyone patiently “learn to live with paradox, to sit with the question.”

A thought-provoking, intelligent reconceptualization of supernatural events.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-98232-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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 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 19, 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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