Jewish comic scorned—venting, revealing, regretting and maybe even meaning it.

DEAN & ME

(A LOVE STORY)

Tell-all memoirs of the tempestuous, sometimes tortured relationship between two personalities cast by fate and a whole bunch of money as comic and straight man.

Give Lewis credit for selective candor, but what he reveals about himself in the process of telling his side of the Martin (1917–95) and Lewis story is often more trenchant than his conflicted report of what went wrong, and occasionally right, with the partnership that lasted a lime-lit ten years. While Lewis opens and closes with heartfelt admiration and—yes, at one point they do affirm it to one another—love for what he calls the best straight man ever to tread a stage, in this book’s long interim, Martin’s character suffers the death of a thousand condescensions. Even as Lewis starts by recalling their last, choked-up performance together in 1956 at New York’s Copacabana, for example, he muses that while “truth was my greatest ally . . . Dean could lie if it would spare someone’s feelings. I had difficulty with that.” And from the beginning, it’s the older Martin, in a “big brother” role Lewis conjures for himself, introducing the kid to hard liquor (although Martin’s later boozy TV persona was a well-calculated act), mobsters, marijuana and, most of all, “other” women. Jerry eventually rationalizes philandering as just part of showbiz; he confesses they made the scene together with peaches-’n’-cream MGM actresses June Allyson and Gloria DeHaven (both married to Hollywood actors at the time) in what is described as an extended Manhattan shack-up. It’s Martin’s consistent insensitivities and ingratitude, often tinged with ridicule, that start to grind, however. He plays golf and reads comic books while Lewis deals with business, etc., and at one point is a no-show at a charity commitment. Lewis blows up (he claims he initiated the split), and after a nasty onstage fall—solo—winds up gobbling Percodans.

Jewish comic scorned—venting, revealing, regretting and maybe even meaning it.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2005

ISBN: 0-7679-2086-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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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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