A compelling exploration of a beguiling film icon’s life—a significant if not quite definitive addition to the ever...

MARILYN MONROE

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A PUBLIC ICON

A deep dive into the model and screen legend’s glamorous but troubled life.

In the decades since Marilyn Monroe’s (1926-1962) death, our fascination with her remains strong. Her allure has sparked the imaginations of talents ranging from Andy Warhol to Joyce Carol Oates to the producers of the TV series Smash, and she has been the subject of countless biographies. In his latest book, Casillo (The Marilyn Diaries, 2014, etc.) rehashes much family material about Monroe, but he pays particularly sympathetic attention to her emotional journey. Delving into the well-known narrative points, he begins with Monroe’s unhappy and frequently abusive childhood. Dependent on a single mother who was suffering from severe mental health issues, she was frequently put into foster care and at one point abandoned in an orphanage. As Monroe blossomed into a stunningly attractive young woman, a modeling career quickly led to minor film roles and subsequent star turns in such 1950s classics as Gentleman Prefer Blondes and The Seven Year Itch. While developing into one of the most famous movie stars of her time, she increasingly struggled with deep insecurities and dependency on pills and alcohol. Her acting talent continued to expand, but by the early 1960s, her personal life was plummeting. Often feeling paralyzed by low self-esteem working in front of the camera, she often displayed erratic behavior that caused long delays on film sets. This accelerated during production of her last completed film, The Misfits, and influenced a fatal blow with her dismissal from the ill-fated Something’s Got to Give. Casillo focuses a good portion of the book on Monroe’s fragile emotional state in these remaining years. She had an obsessive fear of aging and losing her sexual appeal. While not offering much new information, the author thoughtfully re-examines the facts and myths surrounding the events leading to Monroe’s death, touching on her affairs with both John and Robert Kennedy and her continued substance abuse problems.

A compelling exploration of a beguiling film icon’s life—a significant if not quite definitive addition to the ever expanding Monroe literature.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09686-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 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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