A compelling look at an eventful life.

BANNED FROM CALIFORNIA

JIM FOSHEE: PERSECUTION, REDEMPTION, LIBERATION...AND THE GAY CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

A biography of a little-known figure in the 20th-century gay rights movement.

In this debut biography, Steele tells the story of his late friendJim Foshee, a gay historian and activist. Foshee was born in 1939 and had a difficult childhood in which he was frequently at odds with his mother, father, and stepfathers and experienced abuse. He ran away from home repeatedly as an adolescent; the book’s title is a reference to when he escaped from Idaho to Los Angeles in 1954 and an LA sheriff later threatened to have him barred from the state. He was also remanded to the Idaho State Mental Hospital more than once—a place to which he felt more attached than his family home. In adulthood, he continued his peripatetic lifestyle, making a living through low-wage jobs and occasional sex work; finally, a minor theft landed him in a Texas state prison for three years. Foshee eventually ended up in Colorado in 1969, where he fell in love and settled down with John Koop Bergmann, who worked for a laundry machine installation company. The two were fixtures in Denver’s gay community, and Foshee got jobs in print and radio journalism and discovered a passion for researching gay history. When Bergmann died of cancer in 1980, shortly after the two moved to California, Foshee was again on his own, and because their relationship had no recognized legal status at the time, he was relegated to the status of “friend” at his partner’s funeral. Foshee returned to Denver but soon began moving from place to place, mainly between California and Arizona. He continued his involvement in gay activism and historical research through his last decades before his death in 2006.

Foshee’s own words are the core of this book, with quotes from interviews making up much of the text. They’re linked by former journalist Steele’s own narration of the events of Foshee’s life, which adds a sense of structure and effectively places the events in historical and cultural context. However, Foshee proves to be a thoughtful observer of his own journey, giving the reader an intimate look at the choices he made and the paths he followed and the reasons why he did so. Steele’s excellent organization of his biography adds further insight, bringing the midcentury life of an American gay man into vivid relief and painting a detailed picture of an era when homosexuality was illegal in many parts of the country. The book’s geography is also crucial: “I experienced the actual beginnings of the modern gay rights movement then and there in Los Angeles,” Foshee explains at one point, “so I knew firsthand that the gay movement didn’t begin two decades later at the Stonewall Inn.” Photos and documents from a number of sources, including gay-history archives that Foshee helped to build, add illuminating detail along the way. Overall, Steele does an excellent job of presenting the story of an activist and making it clear why his story matters.

A compelling look at an eventful life.

Pub Date: June 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73401-081-7

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Wentworth-Schwartz Publishing Company

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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