Sympathetic but balanced biography of the aging evangelist (b. 1918) who has defined the telegospel as we know it today. Ever broadly aware of revivalism in America, Martin (Sociology/Rice) offers a straightforward view of the most influential evangelist since St. Paul. He shows in fine detail the marketing techniques by which the Billy Graham Evangelical Association wins over sinners worldwide, but he also keeps close focus on Graham, who uses Grecian Formula 16 to keep his hair the right color for TV. Graham was a hyperkinetic child, abrim with mischief but no meanness, who charmed all by the sheer force of his liking everyone. Though not much academically, he had great powers of concentration; and when guests came to visit his home, ``he typically staked out the largest available chair and sat wide-eyed and wordless, gnawing his nails and soaking up every sentence.'' Before attending the Florida Bible Institute, he was the top Fuller Brush salesman in North and South Carolina (he prayed before knocking). His big splash came when a meeting with President Truman (who thought him a God huckster) got national publicity. His later ties to ``the Eisenhower-Nixon administration were his optimum public credential.'' In 1966, Graham set out to change ``the fundamental direction of contemporary Christianity'' and had his own Second Coming in Berlin, where he declared that not to believe in the reality of hell is softheaded; he still sees Satan as a literal being. Team members blanch when he fumbles facts or raps out his ``familiar claim that sexual chastity is virtually impossible without supernatural assistance...especially...for a man, whose sex drive `is six times greater than in a woman.' '' Billy Graham, warts and all: ``hernias, ulcers, tumors, cysts, polyps, infections, pneumonia, chronic high blood pressure, throbbing headaches, spider bites and...falls that have broken 18 of his ribs.'' (Twenty-four pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-06890-1

Page Count: 516

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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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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