The dynamic that made the band great also tore them apart, as this biography superbly documents.

TROUBLE BOYS

THE TRUE STORY OF THE REPLACEMENTS

An in-depth biography of a beloved, exasperating band that never quite made it.

Early on in this impressively researched and well-rendered biography, Commercial Appeal music critic Mehr describes how the Replacements became “ ‘legends’ without ever really becoming stars” and then proceeds to show how the qualities that made them legendary prevented them from achieving the success that fans thought they deserved. Frontman Paul Westerberg may well have been the greatest rock songwriter of his generation, the equal of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, and others who would follow his punk-pop lead to far greater glory. And the rest of the band was never simply the rest of the band but musical misfits who contributed to the chemical equation that resulted in brilliant performances one night and absolute disasters the next. Guitarist Bob Stinson, abused and neglected as a child, was the initial leader, recruiting his younger brother, Tommy, not even in his teens when he became the bassist. Drummer Chris Mars was the band’s initial songwriter and creative force, but he was increasingly marginalized as Westerberg joined and asserted himself (Mars, also an artist, now sells his paintings for thousands of dollars). Add lethal doses of alcohol, increasing quantities of drugs, and the rebellious irresponsibility fueled by both, and you’ve got an explosion waiting to happen—which it did, frequently, as the band fought with managers, record labels, and producers and sabotaged promotional efforts with journalists and radio stations. As a straightforward, ramshackle rock ’n’ roll band, they never quite fit with either the punk rock that inspired them or the so-called “alternative rock” that would enjoy such success in their wake. “We were five years ahead of our time, we were ten years behind,” said Westerberg, who never achieved expected success as a solo artist. A recent reunion effort featuring Paul and Tommy brought them their biggest paydays but fell apart because of familiar tensions.

The dynamic that made the band great also tore them apart, as this biography superbly documents.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-306-81879-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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