A memoir of vivid detail and understandable ambivalence.

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020


The bassist for Prince during the Purple Rain era provides glimpses into the kingdom.

BrownMark—who was born Mark Brown in 1962—describes his rise from a single-parent home in a city of racial discrimination (Minneapolis) to success with the musical supernova. Yet there were plenty of bumps along the way. For example, in 1982, even a big raise only brought his salary to $425 per week; later, he quit after discovering that his Purple Rain Tour bonus that he’d imagined might be $1.5 million was in fact only $15,000. Those looking for a memoir awash in sex, drugs, and the seamier sides of Prince’s private life will instead discover hard work and rigid discipline under a stern taskmaster, an artist who became what he was through minute attention to detail as well as genius. The author ably chronicles his own life growing up Black in a city so White he thought of it as a “Scandinavian Mecca.” As a boy, his family didn’t have a TV, and his early experiences playing music involved a makeshift guitar constructed out of a shoe box and rubber bands. Before he auditioned for Prince, he had never been to the suburbs, and before he joined the band, he had never been on a plane. His life changed dramatically at a time when the world of music was changing, as well. Disco was breaking down walls between Black and White, and punk was bringing a new edge and urgency. As Prince’s star was ascending, he demanded the full spotlight and resented any response his young bassist was generating. The author left the band in the mid-1980s feeling that he lived “in a world of filth, greed, and deception.” Still, the connections and impressions he made as a member of The Revolution launched his career, and he notes that “working with Prince was like going to the finest music school in the land.” One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A memoir of vivid detail and understandable ambivalence.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5179-0927-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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


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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