A dishy but overstuffed and overly praiseful portrait.



A sweeping, gossipy biography of the chameleonic pop star in the form of an oral history, with input from dozens of collaborators, lovers, and admirers.

Bowie himself weighs in, too, as longtime music journalist and British GQ editor Jones (Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died, 2014, etc.) scored excellent access to Bowie and his cohort. However, Bowie’s contributions are mostly gnomic pronouncements—e.g., “my art has little to do with trends, and nothing at all to do with style.” For details (and dirt), Jones finds producers Tony Visconti and Brian Eno, who weigh in on Bowie’s approach to recording (game for anything but impatient); fashion and music journalists, who were wowed by his path-breaking 1970s performances; his first wife, Angie, who had an embattled relationship with the singer as he deeply indulged in sex and cocaine in the mid-’70s. (Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes recalls “so many girls coming and going one by one, nonstop.”) Bowie’s musical output after the early 1980s is generally dismissed as cravenly commercial and/or lazy, but Jones’ interlocutors tend to argue even Bowie’s miscues reflect the same seeking spirit that produced “Ziggy Stardust”; he just became more interested in acting and art collecting and had settled down with his second wife, Iman. Jones unearths quirky bits of Bowie-ana (he wanted to sing a duet with Mick Jagger from a space shuttle) and details his highly creative months preceding his death from cancer in 2016. But the occupational hazard of oral histories is that they lack broader context, and a hermetically sealed, accentuate-the-positive feel intensifies in closing pages thick with encomiums—though the author does make room for critic Paul Gorman’s assessment: “he made execrable records during 1984-1995, often wore terrible clothes, stupid makeup and had rotten haircuts.” Jones captures his subject’s transformations and the responses they provoked, but the tone is fan-friendly, assuming Bowie's greatness rather than arguing for it.

A dishy but overstuffed and overly praiseful portrait.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-451-49783-3

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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