A brisk, wised-up and highly entertaining consideration of a crucial musical epoch’s many facets.

WHITE BICYCLES

MAKING MUSIC IN THE 1960S

A key producer of England’s folk-rock greats looks back at the ’60s.

Boyd may be best known for helming unforgettable albums by Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, John & Beverly Martyn, the Incredible String Band and Vashti Bunyan, but he emerges in this memoir, originally published in England in 2006, as a sort of Zelig of ’60s music. Born in New Jersey, he got his start as a concert promoter, road manager and stage manager for a variety of great folk, blues and jazz acts; the early pages of the book are filled with wonderful backstage glimpses of Lonnie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Rev. Gary Davis, Duke Ellington and others. Working for George Wein at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he witnessed first-hand the violent birthing of folk-rock in Bob Dylan’s controversial performance, caught in a lovely fly-on-the-wall chapter. In London, he recorded Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd in their pre-stardom days and co-founded UFO, the city’s first underground rock venue. His Witchseason Productions brought the cream of the ’60s U.K. folk-rock boom to light. Returning to the U.S. in the early ’70s, he produced a memorable documentary about Jimi Hendrix for Warner Bros. Boyd’s remembrances are delivered in cool, straightforward and self-effacing style. He’s equally at home discussing the machinations of the British music biz and the eccentricities of his oddball stable of musicians (especially the Incredible String Band and the legendary Drake, a classic introvert whose essence seems elusive even to his discoverer and longtime producer). The book unfolds in leisurely fashion and allows for engaging tangents on such topics as the joys of analog recording and the inner workings of Scientology (of which Boyd was briefly an adherent). Ultimately, the author takes a conflicted view of the radical decade; his title references the white bicycles, provided as free transportation by Amsterdam revolutionaries, that were finally stolen and repainted as the free-for-all spirit of the ’60s disintegrated.

A brisk, wised-up and highly entertaining consideration of a crucial musical epoch’s many facets.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-85242-910-0

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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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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