A neat encapsulation of an amazing career.

KING OF BOLLYWOOD

SHAH RUKH KHAN AND THE SEDUCTIVE WORLD OF INDIAN CINEMA

The unlikely rise to fame of one of India’s biggest movie stars, contextualized by the evolution of the Bollywood film industry.

After digesting Chopra’s (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, 2003, etc.) book, few readers will be in doubt that Shah Rukh Khan chose the correct line of work. Khan’s life story is full of all the drama, tragedy and seemingly insurmountable hurdles that populate his movies, and Chopra infuses the pivotal moments of his life with an edge-of-your-seat tension worthy of the best Bollywood blockbusters. Khan began as a disciple of perhaps the most famous of all Bollywood stars, the ruggedly good-looking Amitabh Bachchan. But compared to Bachchan, Khan was a reckless, disheveled rogue whose career choices and lifestyle marked him as a rank outsider. As Chopra chronicles Khan’s improbable rise—first in television, then in film and finally as a jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur—she occasionally dips into wider developments in Indian culture. The Americanization of India is given ample coverage, and Chopra writes at length on how marketing, and branding (one chapter is titled “Brand SRK”), took a stranglehold on both Bollywood and society as a whole. She also looks at how the mob put increasing pressure on Indian businesses through extortion rackets and murder in the late 1990s, eventually infecting Bollywood through the presence of notorious mobster Abu Salem, who practically forced Khan into hiding. This signified the beginning of a bleak period for the actor, as it coincided with various failings in his businesses and in his on-screen career—and the events provide a real cinematic twist, allowing Chopra to muse on her fallen hero’s dark days, which are, of course, tempered by an inevitably triumphant comeback with the movie Devdas. Chopra offers a solid entry-level introduction to both Bollywood and one of its biggest stars. The only flaw is the lack of detailed interview material with its primary subject, but this is nicely counterbalanced by the author’s musings on wider developments in Bollywood.

A neat encapsulation of an amazing career.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-446-57858-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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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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