An engaging doorstop of a biography and a lasting legacy for the keeper of rock-’n’-roll’s watchtower.

STICKY FINGERS

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JANN WENNER AND ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE

The definitive biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner (b. 1946).

Much like its spiritual cousin Saturday Night Live, Rolling Stone magazine has been a murderers’ row of talent for decades, from the groundbreaking Lester Bangs to the gonzo engine of Hunter S. Thompson to political wunderkind Matt Taibbi. Here, former Rolling Stone contributing editor Hagan provides the most complete portrait ever of the man who has firmly gripped the magazine’s helm the whole time, a man whose thumbprint on the American culture was matched only by a vacillating stew of ego and insecurity. For fans, newbies, and journalism junkies alike, the iconic stories are here—e.g., Patti Hearst’s Stockholm syndrome, the assassination of John Lennon, and the combative, brotherly bond between Wenner and Thompson in the latter’s heyday (Wenner’s response to his first meeting with Hunter is priceless: “I know I’m supposed to be the youth representative in the culture, but what the fuck is that?”). The author also explores the heavily drug-fueled work ethic among Wenner and contemporaries like Annie Leibovitz, Wenner’s infamously combative marriage, and his long, painful struggle with his sexuality. To his credit, Hagan doesn’t trade on his access to his subject’s celebrity friends; when Mick Jagger or Michael Douglas pop up in the narrative, it’s because they’re substantive eyewitnesses to the scene at the time. Working with his subject’s full consent and participation, the author manages to create a far deeper portrait than many readers will expect. In capturing Wenner’s legend, Hagan creates a moving portrayal of a complicated, brilliant, flawed man who genuinely moved the needle on American culture. “He was the fame maker but also the flame keeper,” Hagan writes of Wenner’s evolution after Lennon’s death. “The success and power of Rolling Stone made him the de facto architect of rock’s cosmology, but it was his attention to the legends that made him the indispensable man.”

An engaging doorstop of a biography and a lasting legacy for the keeper of rock-’n’-roll’s watchtower.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-87437-0

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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