those who find their muse.

WHAT PRICE FAME?

George Mason Univ. economist Cowen presents an unpersuasively optimistic look at the alleged benefits attendant upon the

commercialization of fame. The cult of celebrity is ascendant, but is it all bad? Doesn’t fame, asks Cowen, goad artists and scientists and politicians to reach higher and take the kinds of risks that ultimately enrich all our lives? And isn't there enough capital in the star machine to fuel diversity as it seeks a profit, encouraging a thousand flowers to bloom, especially when there is not a consensus who is the top petunia? It is a small price to pay, this adoration, for a big payback from the performer, though Cowen neglects to address the high costs—of clothing and assorted accoutrements—that come with fandom. Cowen certainly makes clear the uncoupling of fame from merit and virtue—"commercialized fame, by directing fame away from moral merit, frees ideas of virtue from the cult of personality"—but he doesn't make a compelling case for why that’s such a good idea, despite his contention that commercialization produces "a greater quantity and diversity of fame." Certainly most contemporary artists, for all their diversity, continue mostly to eke out a living, although technology has increased their potential audience. Cowen tries to spark sympathy for stars, who can lose their creativity along with their privacy, or worse yet "lose themselves by pursuing the adoration of the masses," but that’s a plea that doesn't play even in Peoria. Too often, Cowen's writing—"many of the costs of fame fall on the famous. . . . It is the star who is alienated under capitalism, not necessarily the workers"—inane and downright foolish enough to undercut the provocation of his other comments on the state of fame in today's world. Cowen never mounts a convincing argument that celebrity worship has a trickle-down effect, democratizing paybacks for

those who find their muse.

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-674-00155-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2000

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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