A gift for those interested in the history of American art and the history of feminism.

BECOMING JUDY CHICAGO

A BIOGRAPHY OF THE ARTIST

An engrossing, vivid study of the life and work of one of America’s most important feminist artists.

Levin (Art/Baruch Coll. and The Graduate Center, CUNY; Edward Hooper: An Intimate Biography, 2005, etc.) turns her attention to Judy Chicago (born in 1939), tracing Chicago’s early interest in art, exploring her psychological reaction to her father’s early death and chronicling her first brief marriage. The artist’s commitment to feminism was forged in that marriage: Long before it was fashionable, Chicago insisted that spouses share housework, once exclaiming to her husband, “What makes you think that because, by a biological accident, I was born with a cunt, I am supposed to pick up your socks?” Those feminist convictions soon found expression in her work. Her first major work of feminist art was her 1972 Womanhouse, a multimedia installation that explored the ways in which women have been oppressed by domestic expectations. The author strikes just the right balance between Chicago’s oeuvre and her life, offering frank discussion of Chicago’s complex second marriage, careful attention to Chicago’s relationship with Judaism and a thoughtful examination of Chicago’s feminist pedagogy. But the most arresting section is devoted to Chicago’s masterpiece, The Dinner Party. Levin captures what an artistic challenge The Dinner Party posed for her subject, and spells out the personal and financial sacrifices she made in order to complete the massive work. Though this is not an authorized biography, Chicago was cooperative and generous with Levin, who seems to have unfettered access not only to Chicago’s papers, but to dozens and dozens of people she knew and worked with, including ex-lovers, students, relatives and friends. The book is marred only by Levin’s slightly stilted prose.

A gift for those interested in the history of American art and the history of feminism.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2007

ISBN: 1-4000-5412-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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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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