I AM JACKIE CHAN

MY LIFE IN ACTION

Hong Kong action star Chan tells his story to journalist Yang (Eastern Standard Time, not reviewed), and a colorful rags-to-riches tale it is. Chan is best-known as a man who does all his own stunts, no matter how insanely dangerous or harrowing, a genuinely likeable Everyman figure who is summed up by the title of his most recent American release: Mr. Nice Guy. Although he is a master of kung fu, his film persona is that of the ordinary guy who feels pain, who loses fights occasionally, and who survives by his wits and agility rather than superhuman strength. Delightfully enough, that is the same personality that emerges from this surprisingly artful as-told-to. Chan focuses on his childhood and early career struggles for most of the book, only reaching his present level of stardom (he’s the biggest box-office draw in Asia, and rapidly approaching similar status everywhere else) in the last 75 pages. His childhood story is offbeat, perhaps well known to his fans but a glimpse into a very different world for everyone else. When he was seven, his parents handed him over to the China Drama Academy, where he ate, slept, and lived for ten years, studying the arts of the Chinese opera under Dickensian conditions. Chan recounts this story of 12-hour days, beatings, and other punishments with a finely judged sense of right and wrong, without a grandstanding sense of outrage, and with considerable humor. The rest of his story is told with appealing modesty as well. The book concludes with a very detailed filmography and lists of his ten most dangerous stunts and favorite fight scenes. An entertaining tale, well enough told that it should be of interest even to those who have never seen a Jackie Chan film, if any such people still exist. (8 pages color, 16 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-345-41503-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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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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