Too tawdry by half and as groundbreaking as a Wikipedia entry.

NICHOLSON

A BIOGRAPHY

There is nothing in these pages from celebrity biographer Eliot (Steve McQueen, 2011) that will come as a surprise to those who have followed the actor through his career and personal life.

While it may be fun to remember that Nicholson duly made his appearance on Matinee Theatre and that he took a turn on the Andy Griffith Show, there is no sense of the author digging for the goods: new material, a fresh perspective or insights into Nicholson’s moviemaking. Mostly, readers will wonder at the blatantly obvious comments—e.g., “although it took many hard years to happen, he eventually became a star.” As for Nicholson’s notorious sex life, it either throws a creepy Freudian shadow—“The seeds of sex were clearly planted in Jack from a very early age. ‘I was very driven. I remember being at least mentally sexually excited about things from childhood, even sooner than eight’ ”—or touches that too-much-information chord: “While tripping [on LSD], he could confront the persistent problem of premature ejaculation.” Movies take a back seat to goodies like a tour with Michael Douglas, where there were all the “young and beautiful women. They devoured them like shrimp….According to Jack, tongue firmly in cheek (and elsewhere), the tour was all about politics, social behavior, and women.” Eliot makes it extremely difficult to take the work seriously or want to take Nicholson so. When the author starts committing pop psychology—“Women were no longer purely objects of desire but a form of self-affirmation, that he was still able to get them”—it is clear the whole project has taken a wrong turn, way back somewhere.

Too tawdry by half and as groundbreaking as a Wikipedia entry.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-88837-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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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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