Johnson remains a fashion pioneer, but her storytelling lacks the wit or polish necessary to make the book a success.

THE FACE THAT CHANGED IT ALL

A MEMOIR

A memoir from the model whom fashion designer Halston once called "the new beauty ‘It Girl.’ ”

In August 1974, Johnson (True Beauty: Secrets of Radiant Beauty for Women of Every Age and Color, 1994) transformed the fashion industry as the first African-American to appear on the cover of American Vogue. That appearance, she writes, “left an enduring mark on the country, its view of beauty, and the meaning of beauty for decades to come.” However, as she notes, her life and career have been scarred by unwanted sexual advances that began at age 12 and that include a frightening 1986 incident with Bill Cosby (which the author has talked about publicly following other allegations against the comedian). Johnson’s observation that modeling was "an industry that I would find to be overflowing with a toxic mix of deceit, manipulation, abuse, and backstabbing" is echoed in the details of her unstable personal life, which has been marked by a string of codependent relationships with leeching, unfaithful, or drug-dealing men who robbed her of her livelihood and self-respect, jeopardized her health, and nearly ruined her professional reputation. When she finally recognized that her life had become a battle of "self-loathing and self-destruction,” she was able to start down the hard road toward redemption. Though she remains a sympathetic, candid narrator, Johnson recounts these doomed romances and other personal issues with repetitious lamentations, and she doesn’t seem to have gleaned much wisdom from the experiences. She also litters the book with clichés—on one page, she uses "bright and early," "best and brightest," "nearest and dearest," and "crystal clear.” These are not only distracting, but they hold readers at a distance and demonstrate the author’s lack of real insight.

Johnson remains a fashion pioneer, but her storytelling lacks the wit or polish necessary to make the book a success.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7441-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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