Bittersweet rise and decline of the great French movie star Simone Signoret (1921-85), by a writer for Paris's Nouvel Observateur. David improvises in a gaga style, telling us that the writing has been ``a long daydream in which I took over Simone's memories like a squatter.'' The author managed to get one interview with Signoret at the end of her life, and a half hour with an untalkative Yves Montand, Signoret's second and last husband. The actress was born in Wiesbaden to a Jewish French Army officer who had married a German, and she was raised in comfort. Back in France, her father became a multilingual translator whose many travels away from home fed her growing self-reliance. During the Nazi occupation, she became secretary to the editor of a collaborationist newspaper, Les Nouveaux Temps, who was shot by a French firing squad after the war. Signoret got into films by playing bits and extras, and she had a daughter by Yves Allegret, the director who launched her to stardom. Her most memorable roles in France were as the tart in La Ronde, the blond in Casque d'Or, the stony-faced murderess in Les Diaboliques, and the adulteress in ThÇräse Raquin. In 1949, Signoret met then-music-hall singer-dancer Montand and life was never the same. The night she won an Oscar for her role in Room at the Top, Montand sobbed in his seat beside her- -but he was already into his scandalous affair with Marilyn Monroe. That wound never healed, says David, and Signoret, defiantly, began aging. Alcohol and Gaulois did the rest, with the actress growing fat, wrinkled, bad-tempered, and half-blind, while Montand had his mistresses. Long politically active, Signoret died at age 64. Far, far less fulfilling than Signoret's own Nostalgia Isn't What It Used To Be (1972) or Montand's You See, I Haven't Forgotten (1992). (Twenty-two b&w photos—not seen)

Pub Date: June 25, 1993

ISBN: 0-87951-491-4

Page Count: 225

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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 19, 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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