An intelligent, carefully representative look at Hirschfeld’s work that ably shows why the artist deserves to be remembered...

THE HIRSCHFELD CENTURY

PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST AND HIS AGE

A richly illustrated study of the artist who richly illustrated publications, marquees, and other venues for eight decades.

Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) was, in the words of museum curator Leopold, “a visual journalist who ‘reported’ what he saw, with no interest in picking winners or losers, but looking for character whether it was expressed in word, music, or movement, which he would then translate into his signature line.” That signature line, swooping and evocative, could not be mistaken for the hand of any other, and so influential was Hirschfeld that, in Leopold’s witty assessment, after he drew the Marx Brothers, the troupe “started to look more like Al’s drawings, rather than the other way around.” A favorite of Franklin Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra alike, Hirschfeld lampooned and japed, and though he tried his hand at serious work—some of his early pieces on display here resemble Chagall, while others clearly borrow from Gauguin and perhaps less clearly from Covarrubias—it is his whimsical show-business portfolio for which he is best remembered, and particularly his broad-stroke portraits of Laurel and Hardy, Milton Berle, and other stars of a bygone era. (Yet he kept himself current: two of Hirschfeld’s final portraits portrayed Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.) As Leopold notes in this critical but by no means arid study of the art, Hirschfeld was extraordinarily prolific, completing more than 10,000 pieces over a long life. He was a “Zelig-like character in a good bit of cultural history of the twentieth century.” He was good-natured about it, too, joking that he supported the capitalist system as a machine “so sloppily and benevolently conceived that even I could wind up owning a house.”

An intelligent, carefully representative look at Hirschfeld’s work that ably shows why the artist deserves to be remembered today.

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-87497-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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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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