Amusing, readable, occasionally moving account of life during wartime by a frustrated would-be hero.

THE DAY I FIRED ALAN LADD

AND OTHER WORLD WAR II ADVENTURES

Whimsical, at times poignant memoir of the WWII.

Hotchner (Louisiana Purchase, 1996, etc.) provides an example of an all but vanished “laughter-in-uniform” genre that grew from America’s last widely supported war. A St. Louis native and graduate of Washington University Law School, the author eyed his opportunity to get into uniform right after Pearl Harbor. When flat feet and poor depth perception kept him from being a combat pilot, he accepted life as a lowly GI and was suffering his way through boot camp when a commanding officer, noting that Hotchner’s resumé included student theater, ordered him to write a patriotic musical to raise money for war widows. For the rest of the war he tried to make his way to the front lines but was thwarted when the military found him useful for writing company rousers, arranging skits, or making a movie about US anti-submarine patrols. Along the way, he comforted Clark Gable, who had enlisted after his wife, Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash; fired Alan Ladd as narrator of his anti-sub film; and befriended the acid-penned Dorothy Parker. He’d known Tennessee Williams as a student in St. Louis, and rubbed shoulders with such Hollywood types making films for the war effort as Frank Capra, William Holden, and Ronald Reagan. (Today, Hotchner is a partner in actor Paul Newman’s line of food products.) Hotchner’s descriptions of 1930s complacency about Hitler, isolationism, attitudes toward the draft, young men’s Hollywood-shaped illusions of war and glory, and women’s economic and sexual “liberation” as they assumed war-related jobs are all evocative. And he has a good eye for the telling detail, as when he runs his hand over the wooden railing on the Queen Mary with its scratched initials from the thousands of GIs the ship has previously transported to their uncertain fate.

Amusing, readable, occasionally moving account of life during wartime by a frustrated would-be hero.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8262-1432-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Univ. of Missouri

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more