A warm, witty portrait of a quietly extraordinary American life.

REDNECK BOY IN THE PROMISED LAND

THE CONFESSIONS OF “CRAZY COOTER”

Lowbrow TV-actor-turned-congressman relates his strange life and times.

No, it’s not Sonny Bono, or even Fred Grandy. Surely no one was clamoring for a memoir from Jones, semi-famous for portraying the begrimed mechanic “Cooter” on The Dukes of Hazzard before serving two terms as a Democratic U.S. congressman from Georgia. So this modest tome is a pleasant surprise, as he relates the events of his unlikely life with appealingly low-key charm and easy humor. Born in crushing poverty to an alcoholic railroad man and his defeated wife, the author grew up in a shack in Virginia, following in his dissolute father’s footsteps while racking up failed marriages and stints in jail. But he yearned for something better, haphazardly cultivating an interest in literature and theater between blackouts, eventually finding sobriety and gainful employment maintaining the Duke boys’ General Lee on network television. Jones’s account of his dark years is perhaps too restrained; he alludes to various categories of bad behavior and leaves it at that. The book really picks up steam with his post-Dukes congressional career, a development that surprised Jones as much as anyone. He dishes freely, delightedly reporting on the crookedness and venality of the party machinery that opposed him. The case for campaign-finance reform has seldom been made so entertainingly as in his account of an underfunded and idealistic outsider running afoul of institutionalized graft, corruption and hypocrisy. (Newt Gingrich won’t be providing a blurb.) A late highlight of the narrative is Jones’s trip to Tiananmen Square, where he violated diplomatic protocol and staged a small protest in the name of the murdered student protestors, infuriating the Chinese brass. That gesture sums up his public life: small-scale, sincere and sympathetic to the little guy. Jones currently curates a phenomenally successful annual Dukes of Hazzard fan festival at which “Crazy Cooter” remains a major draw. God bless America.

A warm, witty portrait of a quietly extraordinary American life.

Pub Date: June 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-307-39527-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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