STONE

THE CONTROVERSIES, EXCESSES, AND EXPLOITS OF A RADICAL FILMMAKER

Despite its title, the aging enfant terrible of America takes few hits from the friendly fire of this overly authorized biography. In order to secure Stone's cooperation, Riordan (coauthor, Break on Through, 1991, etc.) allowed the filmmaker to both see and edit his quotes. Perhaps it isn't just Stone-style paranoia, then, that gives the reader the feeling that this book isn't the full story. Riordan airs most of the negatives—Stone's compulsive womanizing, years of drug abuse, his fierce unpleasantness and hyperbole—but invariably excuses or diminishes them with an apologist's zeal. There is also a dÇjÖ vu quality to much of the material, a didn't-I-read-that-somewhere-in-a-magazine feeling. Riordan does do a credible job of illuminating Stone's directorial methods as well as his many driving paradoxes. Here is a bacchanalian ``wild man'' who, nonetheless, runs his sets with boot-camp precision, invariably bringing his films in on time and on budget. Stone may also regularly attack the establishment, yet his sensibilities haven't prevented him from working deep within the Hollywood studio system (and making a fortune). Riordan ties these contradictions to Stone's privileged but miserable upbringing and his military service in Vietnam. Certainly, Stone is convinced he has something important to say. And so, like Stanley Kramer in the '50s, he makes ``message films''—impassioned attempts to grapple with big issues. But Stone is far superior to Kramer in his visceral command of film language. As actress Joan Chen put it, ``Though he can be very strong, and you feel like he's hitting you over the head with what he wants to convey, he doesn't lose his sense of poetry.'' Long after the message is outdated, it will be this poetry that keeps Stone's films fresh and alive. Riordan's biography has few such saving graces. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-7868-6026-X

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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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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