An adequate reference work, but short on the mystique that makes Eastwood such a compelling subject.

AMERICAN REBEL

THE LIFE OF CLINT EASTWOOD

The life and career of the ultimate Hollywood survivor.

Celebrity-bio vet Eliot (Reagan: The Hollywood Years, 2008, etc.) unpacks the legendary career of Clint Eastwood. The author provides scant details of Eastwood’s early life, noting his indifferent academic career and uneventful, middle-class upbringing. After a series of dead-end jobs, including a storied stint as a gas-station attendant, Eastwood, by dint of his angular good looks and strapping frame, slowly broke into the acting business, becoming a national celebrity playing cowboy Rowdy Yates on the long-running Rawhide TV series. His performance as Yates landed him the role of “The Man with No Name” in a series of seminal, operatic westerns directed by Sergio Leone. Eastwood attained worldwide iconic status as a deadly, laconic, grimly ironic prodigy of violence, further cemented by his series of ultraviolent turns as maverick cop Dirty Harry. Eliot declines to make detailed analyses of the films or the actor’s performances, focusing instead on the nuts and bolts of Eastwood’s preternaturally savvy careerist maneuvering and womanizing tendencies. Eastwood comes off as a rather cold, unpleasant character in these respects, using friendships and sexual dalliances to his advantage only to ruthlessly cut them off when they became inconvenient or tiresome. The autocratic star also made a habit of working with “weak” directors and co-stars to insure his dominance in his films. Eastwood’s directing career, including the Oscar-winning films Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), is recounted respectfully, but again Eliot focuses on the negotiations and profits rather than elucidating his style. On the other hand, the author clearly and succinctly summarizes Eastwood’s political and cinematic careers, including the history of his production company, Malpaso. His take on Eastwood’s shabby treatment of longtime girlfriend and frequent co-star Sondra Locke betrays a measure of sympathy for her position absent in his description of the star’s (many) other indiscretions.

An adequate reference work, but short on the mystique that makes Eastwood such a compelling subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-307-33688-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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