Repetitious and flabby (Frank can't stay in a hotel without Brian telling us the room number), with the same Dune minutiae...

DREAMER OF DUNE

THE BIOGRAPHY OF FRANK HERBERT

Son Brian, who’s continued dad’s most famous saga (Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, 2002, etc., with Kevin J. Anderson), chronicles in endless detail the life of a writer who scaled new pinnacles in SF.

Born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1920, young Frank didn't have much of a childhood; he was forced to care for a younger sister as his parents descended into alcoholism. At 19 he got a job on a newspaper, at 21 he enlisted in the Navy, was dumped by his first wife, and received an honorable discharge without seeing combat after a grotesque accident in 1943. Back in the Pacific Northwest, Herbert wrote for newspapers and politicians, drove like a maniac, and in 1946 married Beverly Forbes, a psychic of Scottish descent. He treated their three children (Brian was the eldest) with a curious combination of angry neglect and exquisite cruelty. Whatever he did, he did with his entire being, from uprooting the whole family to live in Mexico to single-mindedly acquiring information for his work in progress. From his modestly successful first novel, The Dragon in the Sea (1956), he developed the Dune vision, which consumed him for the next seven years. Twenty-three publishers rejected the completed text before Chilton published a hardcover edition in 1965. Chronically short of money, Frank wrote stories and novels and eventually extended the Dune saga. Four Dune movie deals fell through before David Lynch in 1984 completed a nearly five-hour film, gutted to two (and doomed) by a studio power struggle. During all this, Brian slowly and painfully endeavored to understand his father and build a relationship with him; clearly, however, intimidation and hero worship lingered until Frank’s death from a pulmonary embolism in 1986.

Repetitious and flabby (Frank can't stay in a hotel without Brian telling us the room number), with the same Dune minutiae endlessly recycled. Nonetheless, a fascinating picture of this furiously energetic, driven, determined, sometimes childlike genius.

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-765-30646-8

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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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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