A vapid, hulking doorstopper of a self-tribute.

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TOTAL RECALL

MY UNBELIEVABLY TRUE LIFE STORY

Immigrant muscleman, action-movie star and former California governor pumps himself up.

In what reads more like a 650-page annotated résumé than a dishy celebrity memoir, the life story of Schwarzenegger (The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, 1999, etc.) seems to have been penned by his soulless celluloid alter ego, the Terminator. Born in Austria the son of a card-carrying Nazi, the author began idolizing bodybuilders as a youngster. After a slapstick-filled stint as a tank driver in the Austrian army, Schwarzenegger dove headfirst into the world of bodybuilding, flexing and posing his way to the Mr. Universe title by the time he was 21. He then invaded America. From here, the author drags us through his version of the American dream: the endless weight training, real estate deals, political suckups and bad movies; the Humvee and private jet; his affair with Amazon man-hunter Brigitte Nielsen and rivalry with Sly Stallone; his love for Richard Nixon, his penchant for saying “outrageous” (read: stupid) things and his pathological zeal for self-promotion, and much more. Schwarzenegger documents his one-man Hollywood takeover in a blur of name-dropping and efficiently adds up the profits from each of his movies. By 2010, in addition to being a washed-up actor, the author was also the dubious mastermind behind the flashy culinary failure of Planet Hollywood and a lame-duck conservative ex-governor with record-low approval ratings. But just when it seemed like he was out of the spotlight, Schwarzenegger stirred up some saucy domestic drama, admitting to his wife that he impregnated the family housekeeper in 1996. Yet the iron-willed author admits to few imperfections and apologizes for little.

A vapid, hulking doorstopper of a self-tribute.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6243-6

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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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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