A well-researched if surprisingly cool account of sensual artists.



A biography of two of the 20th century’s most famous artist couples, who “prodded, inspired, irritated, and encouraged one another as they grew into modes of relationship that none could have foreseen.”

Readers could be forgiven for thinking the world doesn’t need another biography of Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe. However, Burke (No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf, 2011, etc.) distinguishes her book from previous treatments by investigating the dynamic between the more famous couple and the artists who would become their protégés and, for several years in the 1920s and ’30s, a couple: Paul Strand, the aspiring young photographer who met Stieglitz upon visiting the legendary 291 studio that Stieglitz opened in New York in 1905; and Rebecca Salsbury, better known as Beck, the well-to-do daughter of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show partner and a woman determined to become an artist, “an act of defiance that would meet with her mother’s disapproval.” Throughout the book, the author quotes liberally from the trove of surviving letters among the four principals. Yet despite the comprehensiveness of the narrative, it has a faint pulse. The linear story is a laundry list of events in the quartet’s lives, but it contains relatively little drama. Emmy, Stieglitz’s brewery-heiress first wife, is all but missing from the story. One assumes that their marriage overflowed with friction, especially after Stieglitz began cheating on her with O’Keeffe while also conducting a “risqué correspondence” with Beck, but one doesn’t fully get that sense from the narrative. Some readers might prefer to know more about that marriage than about Stieglitz’s eye pain or O’Keeffe’s swollen legs after a smallpox vaccination. Still, there’s enough juicy material here to intrigue readers interested in the private lives of artists—e.g., the revelation that Stieglitz and O’Keeffe had nicknames for one another’s private parts (“Miss Fluffy” and the reportedly ironic “Little Fella”) and, when the couple were apart, Stieglitz “would often ask after Fluffy’s welfare.”

A well-researched if surprisingly cool account of sensual artists.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-307-95729-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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 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...


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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