Something sweet, with a little spice and a lot of schmaltz: maybe not haute cuisine, but served warm it’s a good recipe for...

MY ANECDOTAL LIFE

Venerable actor, stand-up, second banana, producer, director, and author (How Paul Robeson Saved My Life, 1999, etc.) presents additional autobiography—now, he assures us, with more fact than ever before.

Reiner reveals much of his home life, and particularly his life in showbiz, in chapters that resemble sitcom premises and blackout sketches. These disconnected episodes are, he asserts, “96 percent . . . absolutely true.” Tummeling in the Catskills or double-talking on Caesar’s Hour, from the small screen to the big one, he offers an archetypal theatrical memoir, ever benign, complete with rimshot gags, tales of “shmuckery,” and discrete references to flatulence. (To add some class to the proceedings, Reiner employs new orthography to describe the “pharts”.) Many supporting players make appearances; the cast of dozens includes Georgie Jessel, Mickey Rooney, Howie Morris, Dick (not “Dickey”) Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Max Liebman, 2,000-year-old Mel Brooks, and cherished family members, each acting with style and grace under the author’s direction. From youth in the Bronx to playing the White House, his story has few vicissitudes; Reiner seems to have progressed from “Call Me Mister” to “Call Me Mister Show Biz” with little hesitation. He’s kept the same wife, kids, and forebears he started with, and, he tells us, he’s never sued anyone or been sued, surely a record in his line of work. His father was an inventive watchmaker, he recalls, and clearly our good-natured author has inherited a nice sense of timing.

Something sweet, with a little spice and a lot of schmaltz: maybe not haute cuisine, but served warm it’s a good recipe for palatable recollections.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-31104-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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