Rich with wit and warmth, this compact biography is thoroughly enchanting.

MOZART

THE MAN REVEALED

An ideal introduction to understanding the famous composer.

A British broadcaster and renowned Beethoven expert, Suchet (The Last Waltz: The Strauss Dynasty and Vienna, 2016, etc.) is a terrific guide for general readers to delve into the life, art, and times of the great composer. It’s like attending a lively, entertaining, and informative lecture, with a slide show of illustrations going by in the background: here’s Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) as a young boy (Wolferl to his family), mischievously smiling, here’s the 16-year-old Beethoven playing the piano for the 31-year-old Mozart, who later said, “watch out for that boy; one day he will give the world something to talk about.” Suchet’s aim is to truly “reveal the man,” warts and all. Leopold, his always difficult, domineering father, saw the genius early on when, at age 3, Mozart could replicate what his talented older sister Nannerl was playing at the clavichord. He was soon playing the instrument (blindfolded, later), composing music, and teaching himself the violin. Leopold immediately saw a moneymaking opportunity and took both on a rigorous road tour, the first of many. Mozart was 6. Suchet notes that no “other composer travelled as much as Mozart.” Overall, it was 3,720 days, nearly one-third of his life. He never attended school, was forever on display, and was often ill. He worked constantly at composing, which was “as natural as breathing.” The author draws extensively on the many surviving letters to help fashion his discerning portrait of an often witty and happy genius who also delighted in the scatological. He lightly touches on many of Mozart’s compositions with just the right amount of analysis and opinion. The Marriage of Figaro “would change the face of opera.” Don Giovanni was his “finest, most complex, most dramatically and musically perfect opera.” Jupiter, Mozart’s final piece, written “with unhappiness around him,” is “indisputably his greatest symphony.”

Rich with wit and warmth, this compact biography is thoroughly enchanting.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-509-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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