RAGE TO SURVIVE

THE ETTA JAMES STORY

A better-than-average up-from-the-ghetto, as-told-to life story by the R&B diva. Born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938 in Los Angeles, her remarkable voice won her a featured soloist spot at the local church when she was just a child, and she'd barely hit her teens when she was discovered by L.A. promoter/songwriter Johnny Otis, a Greek man whose soul ``was blacker than the blackest black in Compton.'' Otis gave Etta her stage name and oversaw the recording of her first hit: ``Roll With Me, Henry,'' a double-entendre answer song to the Hank Ballard hit, ``Work With Me, Annie.'' From there, she hit the road, mostly playing small southern towns where she encountered racism at every turn. Her pungent observations about her peers make for amusing reading: Little Richard ``called himself King Richard and would get mad if you didn't recognize his royalty''; James Brown was ``a little dictator, an arrogant lord over the world of his music''; Jackie Wilson ``was incapable of talking about anything but Jackie.'' James also chronicles her regrettable talent for selecting men who used her at best, physically abused her at worst, and an addiction to heroin and other drugs that took her decades to shake. Musically speaking, James's life has also been one of ups and downs. Never quite achieving mainstream success, she moved from pure R&B to light jazz, pop standards, and out-and-out rock 'n' roll in the late '60s and '70s, then returned to form as a funky blues shouter in the '80s. James is well served by coauthor Ritz (Take It Off, Take It All Off, 1993, etc.), who ably captures the singer's feisty tone and does a reasonable job of keeping the narrative moving along. Not exactly an uplifting story, but plenty of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll to keep the fans happy. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-42328-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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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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