A fast-paced and engaging biblical dramatization.

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The Tragedy of Moses

A revisionary look at the story of Moses.

Kanbar (Don’t Let Your Film Die, 2015, etc.) prefaces his fun, poetic take by listing some of the questions surrounding the enigmatic, titular biblical figure—the foremost being: why does God refuse to let him enter the Promised Land? Moses’ tragedy, and particularly the fact that his fate is so out of synch with his service, holds a fascination for Kanbar. This book is his fanciful, speculative attempt at filling in gaps in the story, taking the form of a stage drama along the lines of the Broadway hit Hamilton. In it, a “Leader” takes on expository narration duties, but there are also speaking parts for a wide variety of characters from Scripture, including Moses; his brother, Aaron; the pharaoh who kept the Israelites in bondage in Egypt; a chorus of Israelites; and God himself. Kanbar opts not to adopt the stilted cadences of the King James Bible; instead, he uses a conversational, slangy diction throughout as he takes his audience through the familiar events of Moses’ life, from killing an Egyptian overseer (“This Egyptian dude / is goin’ to be dead”) to confronting the pharaoh and repeatedly demanding that the Israelites be set free. The pharaoh at one point responds, “You sound like a broken record. / Losing free labor, you know, / would cost me a lot of dough. / So the answer is still ‘No.’ ” Each segment begins with some spirited scene-setting by the Leader, proceeds through dramatic exchanges that often sound as if they’re meant to be sung rather than spoken, and concludes with a “Source and Commentary” paragraph for readers. The characters’ contemporary-sounding dialogue doesn’t always work, and it often feels forced (as when one character shouts out “Oy vey!”). Even so, the dramatic format does an effective job of dusting off these canonical characters and holding them up to fresh scrutiny. Indeed, Kanbar’s enthusiasm is so infectious that readers will wish the “Source and Commentary” sections were longer.

A fast-paced and engaging biblical dramatization.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5394-4168-7

Page Count: 118

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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 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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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