The first major biography since Hayden Herrera’s 1983 work presents the artist in all her ferocious complexity.

FRIDA IN AMERICA

THE CREATIVE AWAKENING OF A GREAT ARTIST

An art historian parses the famed artist’s complicated psychological and emotional states while in America as a young wife and emerging artist in the early 1930s.

Stahr (Modern American and Contemporary Art/Univ. of San Francisco) captures Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) in all her ambiguity at age 23, when she embarked on her first American tour with her new husband, famous muralist Diego Rivera. As the author shows, she moved into this uneasy public role while also passionately pursuing her own difficult work. Diminutive in stature and unwell due to an early bout of polio and a terrible car accident in her late teens, Kahlo, like Rivera, was deeply devoted to her Mexican identity as well as socialist ideals. These beliefs would both alienate their American patrons, as in Rivera’s case, and attract the avant-garde, as in Kahlo’s case in New York, where she had her first solo show in 1938. In 1930, visiting San Francisco for the first time, as Rivera painted his commission for the California School of Fine Arts, and then through their stints in Detroit and New York over the next three years, Kahlo devoured the strange sights and used her experiences to inspire her art. She made friends with women artists especially—e.g., Dorothea Lange, Lucienne Bloch, and Georgia O’Keeffe—experimented with her Indigenous (now iconic) wardrobe as she became a darling subject of photographers, grew embittered by her husband’s serial infidelities, and had a devastating miscarriage. All of this served as fuel for her early groundbreaking portraits and self-portraits, which were full of symbolism and blood and gore. Stahr sees the emergent artist’s powers explode in My Birth, an unsettling painting from 1932 that addressed Kahlo’s miscarriage, the recent death of her mother, and her own self-creation. The author’s deep study of Kahlo’s symbolic layering is highly informative, though some of the detail may be overwhelming for readers not versed in art history.

The first major biography since Hayden Herrera’s 1983 work presents the artist in all her ferocious complexity.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11338-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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