Johns comes across as an amiable guy who got lucky, and there must be more to it than that.

SOUND MAN

A LIFE RECORDING HITS WITH THE ROLLING STONES, THE WHO, LED ZEPPELIN, THE EAGLES, ERIC CLAPTON, THE FACES...

A matter-of-fact memoir by the renowned record producer.

Known for his work with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, the Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, Johns seems like a modest guy with a strong work ethic, self-effacing to a fault. And he’s not much for gossip, which means most of the secrets and scandals from these tempestuous artists are not illuminated here. As he explains of the recording of the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” where fissures turned into large cracks, “[i]t is not my place to discuss any detail of what happened, but it is common knowledge that George [Harrison] left the band and was persuaded to return a couple of days later.” The author does acknowledge that Yoko Ono’s presence was a little intrusive, but that’s common knowledge as well. Readers looking for previously unrevealed dirt will be disappointed, as Johns isn’t looking to grind any axes or settle scores. His revelations mainly concern himself, such as the fact that “most find it incomprehensible to believe that I was completely straight and in fact have never taken drugs of any sort. Other than the odd aspirin.” Little wonder, then, that his favorite Rolling Stone was his one-time roommate Ian Stewart, the pianist who wasn’t deemed rock ’n’ roll enough by the band’s manager, and that he didn’t get on well with Keith Richards or Eric Clapton during the depths of their addictions. “I have yet to meet a heroin addict that I would choose to have any kind of social intercourse with let alone a creative relationship,” he writes, “and I’m sure the feeling would be mutual.” Though the book traces the arc of a half-century’s worth of impressive studio credits, one never gets the sense of what distinguishes his studio approach and generated so many hit singles and classic albums.

Johns comes across as an amiable guy who got lucky, and there must be more to it than that.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0399163876

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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