A deep dive into the provocative art of creation and the toll it exacts from those touched by its gifts.

GODS AND KINGS

THE RISE AND FALL OF ALEXANDER MCQUEEN AND JOHN GALLIANO

A juxtaposition of the storied arcs of two of fashion’s most celebrated, and ultimately doomed, geniuses.

The lives of fashion designers Lee Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) and John Galliano (b. 1960) have certainly been explored before. However, by comparing the victories and defeats of the two and adding in her own contemporary remembrances of each, T: The New York Times Style Magazine contributing editor Thomas (Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, 2007) has crafted a compelling drama about the high-stakes world of couture culture. Strangely, both men came from virtually the same background. Galliano was the son of a plumber, and McQueen was from London’s rough-and-tumble East End; they both landed at Central Saint Martins, the much-lauded art school. Thomas tracks the arc as Galliano parlayed his bad-boy reputation into the leading role at Dior. His is a strange portrait; he is a self-styled romantic who has admitted he doesn’t like designing for women because their breasts “spoil the line.” And then there’s the force of nature that was McQueen, who was driven quite mad by the pressures of his role at Givenchy. “If Galliano was a romantic, McQueen was a pornographer,” writes the author. “The Larry Flynt of fashion. He didn’t believe in frontiers. He didn’t believe anything was off-limits. Nothing was taboo. He accepted the brutality of human nature, didn’t try to suppress it. He didn’t want to put women on a pedestal like untouchable, unreachable goddesses. He wanted to empower them. He wanted to help them use the force of their sexuality to its fullest.” Anyone who even skirts this strange atmosphere knows the story ends badly with McQueen’s suicide in 2010 and Galliano’s long banishment after a drunken, anti-Semitic rant in France. This is a dark story about excess, commerce, aristocracy and fashion as high theater that is as operatic as the dizzying shows it describes.

A deep dive into the provocative art of creation and the toll it exacts from those touched by its gifts.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59420-494-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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