A heartwarming story that explores the power of friendship as well as race, sexuality, talent, and identity.

OFFICER CLEMMONS

A MEMOIR

The extraordinary story of one of Mister Rogers’ most groundbreaking and endearing “neighbors,” Officer Clemmons.

Recently, the late Fred Rogers deservedly won posthumous attention thanks to the award-winning documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor and the Tom Hanks vehicle A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. A dear friend of Rogers for three decades, Clemmons offers a firsthand account of his work on Rogers’ show, a story intertwined with the author’s remarkable career as an operatic singer, actor, playwright, and choir director. The autobiography opens with a touching letter from Clemmons to Rogers, thanking him for all of his compassionate lessons. An abbreviated opening recounts the author’s troubled childhood followed by his hard-earned escape to Oberlin College. There, he blossomed both creatively and personally, embracing his homosexuality as well as a deep spirituality that transcended any singular faith. While singing at a church in Pittsburgh, Clemmons met Rogers, about to break nationally with his whimsical children’s show. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Clemmons guest-starred on the show frequently, soon becoming a regular “neighbor” and the first African American to be featured on a children’s program. Clemmons originated his character, the friendly policeman Officer Clemmons, partially as a way to reconcile his frequent conflicts with the police and other authority figures. The author chronicles the friction that resulted from Rogers’ employing an openly gay man on his show, which forced Clemmons to repress his true nature. Nevertheless, their friendship continued to deepen. After Rogers ended a show on a characteristically hopeful note—“You make every day a special day just by being you, and I like you just the way you are”—a spellbound Clemmons asked if he was speaking to him. “Yes, I was,” Rogers replied. “I have been talking to you for years. You finally heard me today.”

A heartwarming story that explores the power of friendship as well as race, sexuality, talent, and identity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-94822-670-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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