Authoritative and thorough fare for royal watchers.

PRINCE PHILIP REVEALED

The longtime editor of Majesty magazine presents a refreshingly nonhagiographic biography of Prince Philip (b. 1921).

In her latest book on the royal family, Seward, a leading expert on the subject, paints a picture of a complex figure: a man of intelligence and energy with a wide array of achievements who has also been a bad father and a difficult, cantankerous boor. Born a prince in Greece, Philip's links to British, Danish, German, and Russian royal bloodlines were so impeccable that the fact that he came into his marriage with two suitcases of possessions to his name—plus a disgraced father, a schizophrenic mother, and four sisters married to Germans—was no obstacle. Third cousins, Elizabeth and Philip met when they were very young; the princess was utterly smitten at age 13. Philip's way with the ladies is well known—Daphne du Maurier is just one of many alleged lovers—but Seward downplays that element of his life. "What remains,” she writes, “is a combination of speculation, innuendo, and pure invention.” Ever the sportsman, Philip is "a very good cricketer, a world-class polo player, a race-winning yachtsman, and a world-champion carriage driver, and…has flown thousands of hours in many types of aircraft." He's also a passionate conservationist, a talented interior decorator, and co-author of a philosophy book that explores such questions as "What are we doing here? What is the point of existence?” Seward's all-seeing gaze follows the man into his rural retirement, by which time "the divorces of three out of four of his children, the divorce of his first grandson, and the problems with his grandson Prince Harry and, more poignantly, his own son Prince Andrew make a depressing appraisal." In 2019, at age 97, he was involved in a car accident that injured civilians, and he gave up his keys. Thereafter, he "pounced on the idea of resurrecting the late Queen Mother’s golf buggy." We leave him with his memories, tooling around the farm.

Authoritative and thorough fare for royal watchers.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982129-75-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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