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The Sixties in Black and White


These line drawings create a spirited monument to a rocky era in American history.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A debut book offers a collection of drawings from the artist’s time working at various magazines.

This collection begins with a four-page interview between Stevens and her daughter, Laura Schleussner, which reveals the artist/writer’s motivations and insights. Stevens lived in New York City in the early 1960s, working toward a Ph.D. in literature at Columbia University. She drew primarily for the magazines Challenge, the New Leader, and the National Review. This volume includes images depicting turbulent moments in U.S. history, like President John F. Kennedy’s funeral (1963) and the riots following the enrollment of the University of Mississippi’s first black student, James Meredith (1962). Stevens moved to Washington, D.C., in 1965, where she began writing for the Washington Post, eventually transitioning from artist to full-time writer. Following the interview are over 70 black-and-white illustrations—including a removable poster—featuring New Orleans jazz musicians, rural Mississippi and West Texas, industrial America, and striking unions. After the illustrations comes an article called “Death in the Mines” that Stevens wrote about the 1963 Dola, West Virginia, mining disaster for the New Leader. The article shows her artwork as it appeared alongside her grim reportage on the methane gas explosion, which implicated the Clinchfield Coal Company in the deaths of 22 men. Stevens’ collection should be of great interest to those not only fascinated by the 1960s, but also by the story of a woman who “did not want to be a sheltered housewife, like most of my friends from my class at Wellesley.” In the clarity of her voice in the interview, she portrays the struggle of succeeding in an era when most women were expected to toil as secretaries. She learned: “It isn’t enough to be rich. It isn’t enough to be famous. You have to know. You have to understand...and that can be a very hard lesson.” Stevens’ pen line of choice is bold, outlining building facades and strikers’ portraits alike. Most effective are the pieces textured by thinner lines, which lend them an iconic, stamplike quality.

These line drawings create a spirited monument to a rocky era in American history. 

Pub Date: May 24, 2016


Page Count: 15

Publisher: Goss Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016


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


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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