Oates’ musical admirers will find much to like here.

Amiable memoir by the shorter, quieter partner in the renowned duo Hall & Oates.

In partnership with Daryl Hall, Oates has racked up some impressive chart stats indeed. As he opens his look backward, he rehearses some of them: countless live performances, seven platinum albums, more than 40 million albums sold, and “fame, fortune, freedom.” Though Hall & Oates are remembered as a creature of the mid-1980s, Oates points out that his friendship and collaboration with Hall dates back a decade and a half earlier, in the second generation of rockers, informed by the likes of Bill Haley, Elvis, and the soul sounds of the Philadelphia streets. Oates has reason to boast, but his prose is workmanlike and modest; more than anything else, he comes off as a fan of many artists of the day, from the Beatles to the Temptations and the earliest manifestations of Elton John and David Bowie. There’s some Zelig-like right-place, right-time things happening here, too, such as a residence at LA’s famed Tropicana Motel: as he writes, nicely, “can’t say I wasn’t blown away by the fabulousity of it all because I was.” Oates works quickly over his earliest years, marked by a stint as a high school wrestler and time in journalism school, before settling into the journeyman stuff, where knowing fans will find a wealth of notes on how the hits came into being, from the early “Abandoned Luncheonette” to the later, more polished, but far less engaged “Ooh Yeah!” (“my head and my heart were not into it”). There’s some sex and drugs along with the rock ’n’ roll, but Oates emerges, like Hall, as a pretty sensible guy who recognized when he was going off the rails; in the end, he emerges as a seeker not of pleasure but of wisdom, even as the duo acquires new street cred in the place of being a “Reagan-era punchline.”

Oates’ musical admirers will find much to like here.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08265-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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