SQUEAKY

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LYNETTE ALICE FROMME--RUNAWAY

This biography of Lynette ``Squeaky'' Fromme—would-be assassin of President Ford—leaves large portions of her life unexplored, focusing in full only on her years in the Manson Family and her attempt to shoot the president. Among Fromme's many associates interviewed by former New York Times reporter Bravin is Phil Hartman, a high school acquaintance of Fromme's who later became famous on NBC's Saturday Night Live. His recollections of Fromme are bittersweet and provide some of the more compelling material here. However, large lapses remain, not the least of which is the suggestion, never resolved, of incest involving Fromme and her authoritarian father. And Bravin glosses over the two decades since Fromme's conviction in a mere ten pages. Perhaps there are so many loose ends here because Fromme would not agree to be interviewed. She might have, had she known that she would receive such delicate treatment from Bravin. While he pulls no punches concerning Fromme's devotion to Charles Manson, her political views concerning the environment, which she used as an excuse for her crime, are presented virtually unedited, no doubt thanks to Bravin's thorough study of the court transcripts and Fromme's own writings. Bravin seems to want his readers to conclude that Fromme had a good cause, after all. The problem is that she stated her cause—that we are killing ourselves by killing our environment—by saying, in essence, ``Stop killing yourself slowly, or I will kill you quickly.'' Bravin tries hard to make her somewhat sympathetic, but ultimately the reader concludes that Fromme is where she belongs—serving out a life sentence in prison in Marianna, Fla. Bravin's research on the crucial years is admirable, but his final product is incomplete and only intermittently interesting. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First serial to Buzz magazine; author tour)

Pub Date: June 19, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-15663-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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