Musical in structure, tone and emotional effect.



An author of scholarly works about George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) returns with a more general work about the prolific composer and his milieu.

Harris (Emeritus, Music/MIT; Handel as Orpheus: Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas, 2004) notes from the beginning that Handel left few documents—letters, journals—about his personal life, so she elects to reconstruct the various worlds in which he moved. In this lushness of context, she argues, Handel will appear—and so he does. The author also elects to write her text in the fashion of a fugue; she presents themes (Handel’s life, the culture, his friends, his music) and revisits them continually—a very effective way of reminding readers about key points and people. Harris begins with family and then charts Handel’s quick rise in the music world (so little is known about his youth) and his decision to move to England, where he lived the majority of his life and endeared himself both to the royals and the commoners. She examines the vagaries of his financial situation (he did well, for the most part), his various patrons, the composition of his operas (which he stopped doing in 1741) and his sex life—did he have one? He never married, but most of his operas, notes the author, culminated with marriage. After his opera career, Handel shifted to oratorios, and Harris writes engagingly about Messiah, which he premiered in Dublin in 1742. The author tells us much about the lives of his intimates, some of whom were more assiduous about letter- and journal-writing. So, indirectly, we learn some about Handel’s reading, collecting (art, books about music) and his health, which featured some occasional “paralytic attacks” and a final blindness that ended his composing and playing. Harris also includes helpful timelines scattered throughout the text.

Musical in structure, tone and emotional effect.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-08895-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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 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...


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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