A loving and engrossing examination of The Urantia Book for devotees.

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BREAKING NEWS! HUMANITY’S LOST HISTORY

A writer explores a cult classic.

In this revised edition of his nonfiction work, Lucas delves into the meanings, minutiae, and occasional mistakes found in The Urantia Book, an enormous, anonymous volume of scientific, philosophical, and religious speculation first published in 1955. Over the course of more than 2,000 pages, The Urantia Book makes a veritable blizzard of claims about the nature of reality, and Lucas here provides essentially an exhaustive, close reading of many of those contentions. (Readers unfamiliar with The Urantia Book won’t be entirely at sea in Lucas’ work, but even so, this is an account mostly aimed at Urantia fans.) The Urantia Book asserts that Jesus was one of the “Creator Sons,” each of whom constructed his own universe, and it goes on at great length, laying out essentially an alternate cosmology and a Unified Theory of Mythology. Throughout his volume, Lucas relates key Urantian narratives and personalities (the Planetary Prince Caligastia, for instance, and his assistant Daligastia). The author quotes extensively from The Urantia Book, as when Jesus is asked about India’s caste system and delivers the kind of diction readers will find nowhere in the King James Bible: “Mankind can appropriately be divided into many classes in accordance with differing qualifications, as they may be viewed physically, mentally, socially, vocationally, or morally, but as these different classes of mortals appear before the judgment bar of God, they stand on an equal footing; God is truly no respecter of persons.” The Urantia Book has had many thousands of passionate fans in the decades since its first appearance, and Lucas here serves those readers well with his clear summaries and innovative linking of his source material to writings as varied as Zecharia Sitchin’s works and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The flaws in Lucas’ volume mirror the failings of the original: Both offer combinations of New Age fantasy and questionable scientific assertions (the author’s first line, for instance, is “Today’s astrophysicists assure us there are hundreds of thousands of universes out in space”). But Urantia fans won’t be bothered by those defects.

A loving and engrossing examination of The Urantia Book for devotees.

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-62310-8

Page Count: 253

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 4, 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 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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An informative, nostalgic evocation of a special urban dining experience.

THE DAIRY RESTAURANT

An account of once-popular New York restaurants that had a rich social and cultural history.

“Since, by choice or historical necessity, exile and travel were defining aspects of Jewish life, somewhere a Jew was always eating out,” observes cartoonist and MacArthur fellow Katchor (Illustration/Parsons, the New School; Hand-Drying in America, 2013, etc.) in his exhaustively researched, entertaining, and profusely illustrated history of Jewish dining preferences and practices. The Garden of Eden, he notes wryly, was “the first private eating place open to the public,” serving as a model for all the restaurants that came after: cafes, cafeterias, buffets, milk halls, lunch counters, diners, delicatessens, and, especially, dairy restaurants, a favorite destination among New York Jews, which Katchor remembers from his wanderings around the city as a young adult. Dairy restaurants, because they served no meat, attracted diners who observed kosher laws; many boasted a long menu that included items such as mushroom cutlet, blintzes, broiled fish, vegetarian liver, and fried eggplant steak. Attracted by the homey appearance and “forlorn” atmosphere of these restaurants, Katchor set out to uncover their history, engaging in years of “aimless reading in the libraries of New York and on the pages of the internet,” where he found menus, memoirs, telephone directories, newspaper ads, fiction, and food histories that fill the pages of his book with colorful anecdotes, trivia, and food lore. Although dairy restaurants were popular with Jewish immigrants, their advent in the U.S. predated immigrants’ demand for Eastern European meatless dishes. The milk hall, often located in parks, resorts, or spas, gained popularity throughout 19th-century Europe. Franz Kafka, for example, treated himself to a glass of sour milk from a milk pavilion after a day in a Prague park. Jews were not alone in embracing vegetarianism. In Europe and America, shunning meat was inspired by several causes, including utopian socialism, which sought to distance itself from “the beef-eating aristocracy”; ethical preferences; and health concerns. A meatless diet relieved digestive problems, many sufferers found.

An informative, nostalgic evocation of a special urban dining experience.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8052-4219-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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