Will have strong appeal for soccer fans and observers of celebrity culture, though such readers may not enjoy the questions...

BABYSITTING GEORGE

A MEMOIR

Unusual and affecting reflection on the toxic combination of achievement, addiction and celebrity culture, as embodied by the decline of one-time soccer champion George Best (1946–2005).

In 2003, as a neophyte reporter, Daily Telegraph feature writer Walden (Harm’s Way, 2008) received an unusual assignment: to “babysit” Best on behalf of their mutual employer, the newspaper that published Best’s ghostwritten column. Sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” for his youthful charisma in his prime, Best’s fortunes had suffered due to a severe alcohol dependency and a failed marriage that played out in the tabloids. After tracking Best down in Malta, Walden and her subject developed a strange friendship, with Walden playing a combination of minder and earnest conscience, as Best’s marriage faltered and he attempted to quit drinking at an expensive spa, only to give in further to it. Walden observes that Best “felt for alcohol what the glutton feels for food: it hijacked every one of his senses.” The author portrays the milieu of British celebrity journalism as fueled by mindless competitive aggression, upon which Best provides wry commentary. The grim narrative spectacle of his decline is leavened by the pair’s irreverent exchanges (Best appreciated her tart honesty) and Walden’s prose, which is often observant and strikingly original. Despite his frequently boorish behavior, including hitting his wife (the offense that finally cost him the newspaper column and its much-needed income), Walden captures Best in sympathetic, nuanced fashion. He was a bright, charismatic sportsman whose early achievements led to a confused life of excess, always in the public eye.

Will have strong appeal for soccer fans and observers of celebrity culture, though such readers may not enjoy the questions Walden’s tale implicitly raises.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60819-942-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more