There is a reason why true crime sells, of course, especially when it involves famous people: A blend of gore, fame, and...

ALL-AMERICAN MURDER

THE RISE AND FALL OF AARON HERNANDEZ, THE SUPERSTAR WHOSE LIFE ENDED ON MURDERERS' ROW

The rapid-fire tale of one of the most infamous true-crime stories of the past decade.

As Patterson (The People vs. Alex Cross, 2017, etc.) and Abramovich (Bullies: A Friendship, 2016) demonstrate early on, Aaron Hernandez (1989-2017) appeared to have it all. A football star in Connecticut, he was recruited to play at the University of Florida, where he was a standout tight end. Although there were a few whispers of behavioral issues when he was in Gainesville that led to him dropping in the NFL draft, Hernandez was drafted by the New England Patriots. His trajectory continued to rise in the NFL, where he made the Pro Bowl and eventually earned a contract extension worth $40 million. Then it all went awry. In 2015, Hernandez was convicted of the 2013 murder of his fiancee’s sister’s boyfriend and later put on trial—though acquitted—for a double murder in Boston that happened before the murder for which he was convicted (and which the authors clearly believe he committed). The handsome and charming but volatile football star was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; in 2017, he was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide. As can be expected in any book with Patterson’s name on the cover, the authors tell the Hernandez tale in page-churning fashion. The book, just over 380 pages of text, contains 97 chapters as well as a prologue, coda, and epilogue, virtually none more than five pages long, most three or four. This approach will undoubtedly keep readers moving, but it also leaves little room for depth and nuance. The book also lacks footnotes, endnotes, a bibliography, or any other sourcing.

There is a reason why true crime sells, of course, especially when it involves famous people: A blend of gore, fame, and voyeurism is a compelling mixture in our violent, fame-obsessed society. There is also a reason why the genre has a reputation for gratuitousness. A middling true-crime saga that fails to answer a significant question: Why?

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-41265-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

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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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