A rosy aura glows throughout this misty memoir of love and loss.

ELVIS AND GINGER

ELVIS PRESLEY'S FIANCÉE AND LAST LOVE FINALLY TELLS HER STORY

The King’s final fiancee breaks her long silence.

Presley fans hoping for some scenes with sizzle will need to reread 50 Shades of Grey instead. Here, there are a few chaste kisses, and the first time the couple actually engaged in any sexual contact, Alden reaches into her well-used bag of clichés and emerges with, “I felt chills as he touched me. Was this it? Were we finally going to make love? I was aroused but anxious, barely able to breathe.” The author’s account is resolutely chronological, beginning with her father’s encounters with Presley in the U.S. Army (encounters not involved in his daughter’s later relationship) and moving forward to the King’s demise on Aug. 16, 1977, when she found him toppled over on the bathroom floor—the author does not go into much detail regarding his death. A couple of decades younger that Presley, Alden was swooped into the Presleys’ odd life at Graceland. Soon, he was showering her (and, eventually, her family, too) with gifts: jewels, cars, furs and some promises he didn’t live to execute. (An unfulfilled promise to pay off her mother’s mortgage was an issue that ended up in court.) Alden also writes about his weird and ugly sides, but always with (remembered) affection. He hit her once (apologized), discharged firearms at a TV and telephone (apologized), hurled a dish of ice cream at the wall when she mentioned calories (apologized), and pouted and waxed passive-aggressive when he didn’t get exactly what he wanted. The author’s many descriptions of Elvis’ fascination with numerology and conspiracy theories make him appear—unintentionally, it’s clear—as something of a dim bulb despite his bright talent. After the King’s death, the others gradually elbowed Alden away, and he did not mention her in his will.

A rosy aura glows throughout this misty memoir of love and loss.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0425266335

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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 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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