A fleeting account of ambition tempered by experience, with special emphasis on reconciling past and present and finding a...

MICHAEL DOUGLAS

A BIOGRAPHY

Celebrity biographer Eliot (Steve McQueen, 2011, etc.) highlights American actor and producer Michael Douglas, considering his life and career through a competitive lens.

The author proposes that Douglas was driven by both his parents’ divorce and his legendary father Kirk’s career—the son constantly sought to emerge from his father’s shadow. In addition to covering Kirk’s formative years as the child of Russian Jewish immigrants and his journey in Hollywood, Eliot examines Michael’s struggles and successes, his personal and professional relationships (with emphasis on his marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones as the height of his personal life) and his diagnosis and recovery from cancer. References to his father, replete with discouraging remarks, punctuate the narrative in sometimes heavy-handed ways, though Eliot concludes by surmising an eventual peace between father and son. Readers seeking a deep, insightful examination of the actor will likely be disappointed, and casual, lazy descriptions hamper the writing. Of the role played by Melanie Griffith in Shining Through, Eliot remarks that her character “…is spying for America in the heart of Berlin during World War II and [is] somehow able to slip in and out of Germany more easily than a teenage hottie gets past security at a Justin Bieber concert.” Of Sharon Stone’s memorable turn in Basic Instinct: “One quick flash of her pubic hair would make her a star—if not at the morning-after water coolers, like Fatal Attraction, then in the night-before wet dreams of the film’s vast male viewers.” Despite such moments, film buffs will appreciate chapters on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the Oscar-winning film Douglas co-produced, as well as behind-the-scenes glimpses of such popular fare as Romancing the Stone and mentions of other stars, from Jack Nicholson to Danny DeVito.

A fleeting account of ambition tempered by experience, with special emphasis on reconciling past and present and finding a renewed sense of family.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-95236-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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