JEANNIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE

Eden comes clean. Squeaky clean.

The author recounts her life story in a charmingly effervescent manner, but there just isn’t much there—an unremarkable girlhood, some familiar struggling-to-break-into-showbiz anecdotes, middling success as an entertainer (excluding her defining role as TV’s “Jeannie”) and family difficulties that, while sad, fail to add much heft to the skimpy narrative. It seems odd to pen a showbiz memoir about not sleeping with Elvis, Warren Beatty or Sammy Davis Jr., but Eden is eager to portray herself as a wholesome good girl repeatedly scandalized by the sexual and chemical habits familiar to anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of Hollywood. Her hit sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, is a perplexingly enduring piece of pop culture, an inane fantasy distinguished only by its questionable sexual politics—a topic Eden dismisses out of hand, pleading the show’s status as simple entertainment. But what other reason is there for discussing it? Eden’s descriptions of costar Larry Hagman’s obnoxious on-set antics are amusing, but she shies away from exploring the profound psychological and emotional problems that must have generated such erratic and appalling behavior. There is authentic pain in her descriptions of an abusive marriage and the drug addiction and fatal overdose suffered by her son, but it’s difficult to muster sympathy in the face of the author’s overwhelming obliviousness in her response to these realities. Eden comes across as a nice person with a modicum of charm, but a more pointless memoir is difficult to imagine. Irredeemably minor but inoffensive, like a half-remembered episode of a silly sitcom.

 

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-88694-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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