An irreverent yet thoughtful macho adventure reflecting the tumult of a fast-fading era.

THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER

A MEMOIR OF FRIENDSHIP, LOYALTY, AND WAR

The story of a patriotic prankster’s freelance incursion into Vietnam, bringing cheer (and beer) to Americans at war.

As Molloy notes in the introduction, “Chick” Donohue seems an archetypal two-fisted, old-school New Yorker, a military veteran who’d become a Teamster and tunnel “sandhog.” In 1967, then a Marine veteran and merchant mariner, he accepted an outsized challenge at Doc Fiddler’s Bar in the Irish enclave of Inwood: to bring beer to neighborhood youth serving in Vietnam. “I was spurred to go to Vietnam,” writes Donohue, “by the sight of antiwar demonstrators in Central Park protesting against my friends from the neighborhood who were serving in the military. Having served overseas in the marines myself, I could only imagine what my buddies were feeling.” This tale seems improbable even by the standards of military yarns, but the narrative gains authenticity from the credible perspectives of the young American soldiers as well as the gritty sense of place. Sailing from New York to Vietnam, Chick found friends from Inwood, who reacted with humorous disbelief. Dramatic tension increases with the authors’ account of Chick’s observing combat patrols firsthand. He missed his ship and was stranded in Saigon just before the Tet Offensive, witnessing the enemy attack on the U.S. Embassy. Stuck in a war zone, Chick scrounged food and lodging from old friends and colorful new acquaintances, his views transformed alongside American soldiers’ worsening fortunes: “I had believed that we were winning....But our leaders had told us Charlie was losing the war, and then they pop up all over the country? Tet changed everything.” Finally, Chick escaped aboard a supply ship that needed crew following the attacks—“I was never so happy to be below deck in a hot engine room”—and he acknowledges his changed perspective: “I wanted to go home...and all the mariners and all the soldiers in Vietnam to go home.” Indeed, a poignant afterword highlights the fortunes of the soldiers encountered on Donohue’s beer run, not all of whom returned.

An irreverent yet thoughtful macho adventure reflecting the tumult of a fast-fading era.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299546-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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