VICKI!

THE TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURES OF MISS FIREBALL

A surprisingly charmless memoir by the longtime Carol Burnett Show costar and recent talk show host. The story of Lawrence's big break is a quintessential show-biz fairy tale. As a high school student, she sent a fan letter to Carol Burnett noting that everyone always commented on her resemblance to the actress. On a whim, Burnett came to see Lawrence in a Fireman's Ball beauty contest and eventually offered the 18- year-old a job on her new television variety program. Over The Carol Burnett Show's 11-year run, the hard-working Lawrence became a skillful supporting player and created at least one characterization—Mama in the ``Family'' sketches—that can justifiably be called classic. Given the rare good luck Lawrence generally encountered, it is particularly strange to find a large streak of anger and tell-all nastiness in her autobiography. She is especially bitter about her parents and sister, whom she savages at Roseanne-like length. Her mother's cruelty, her father's weakness, her sister's jealousy—the list goes on and on. But she also snipes at many co-workers, including Harvey Korman, whom she first praises for teaching her all she knows about comedy, then denigrates as a hopeless neurotic who was almost impossible to work with (she even notes in a superfluous aside that his wife had an affair with New York City Ballet dancer Edward Villella). Lawrence does have some kind words for a few—most notably Al Shultz, her husband of many years, and Burnett, who is otherwise a shadowy presence here—but a section at the book's close praising people she cares about seems too little, too late. The book is dedicated to Lawrence's fans, who may be startled by the woman they discover within. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80286-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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