The book may satisfy fashion industry devotees, but Anna’s iconic sunglasses still don't come off.

ANNA

THE BIOGRAPHY

How the legendary editor of Vogue assembled her extraordinary corporate and personal power.

Though Wintour declined to be interviewed for this book, Odell, a fashion journalist and author of Tales From the Back Row: An Outsider's View From Inside the Fashion Industry, explains that she "blessed the project" so that her friends and colleagues would feel comfortable speaking about her. More than 250 sources did so—Tina Brown even shared her diary—and the author also mined earlier interviews, memoirs by friends and associates, a 2006 biography by Jerry Oppenheimer, and even Wintour's lectures for MasterClass.com. Yet as Odell acknowledges in her introduction, the frustrating fact is that "the many people interviewed for this book had a hard time explaining why she is so powerful and what her power amounts to." This biography could not be any more thorough on the who, what, when, where, and how of Wintour, but without the why, the enigma remains. One notable example is Wintour's long, intense friendship with the recently deceased designer and editor André Leon Talley. Wintour, "as cold and removed as she is said to be," had a connection to Talley unlike any other. Often deferring to him on matters of taste, Wintour gave him a huge salary and nearly unlimited expense account and paid for him to attend a three-month weight-loss program at the Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center. Even when Talley was sometimes rude to her—and even when he told an interviewer, "I do not think she will ever let anything get in the way of her white privilege”—she never flinched. Concerning almost everyone else in her life, she "just moved on." Why were these relationships so different? In this recollection, we never learn. More satisfying is the section dealing with the book and movie The Devil Wears Prada.

The book may satisfy fashion industry devotees, but Anna’s iconic sunglasses still don't come off.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982122-63-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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