A celebration of music made in the spirit of friendship rather than careerism.

THE FLATLANDERS

NOW IT'S NOW AGAIN

Conservative West Texas spawns radical creativity and lifelong bonds of friendship in this story of an unlikely band.

Even readers who are music fans may know little about the Flatlanders, though devotees for whom “the Flatlanders’ songs were the Rosetta Stone of West Texas music” will likely know the story well. More than 40 years ago, three boyhood friends and some fellow travelers journeyed from Lubbock to Nashville to cut an album, which was not released at the time. Subsequently, Joe Ely became a cult favorite as a honky-tonk rocker and dynamic live performer (championed by both Bruce Springsteen and the Clash), and his recordings of songs by Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock spawned music careers for those two former Flatlanders as well. They continued to remain close while pursuing divergent musical paths before reuniting to record and perform after the turn of the century. Veteran Texas journalist Davis (Austin City Limits, 1999) knows these musicians well, as well as the culture that spawned them, so it’s surprising that he relies so heavily on secondary sources, from which he quotes liberally without providing full information (referring to a magazine piece without the article’s title, author or year, for example, or naming the writer without the publication or year). Perhaps a tight deadline was a problem, for there is also plenty of repetition of information that wouldn’t have survived a more thorough edit. Yet the author remains a colorful wordsmith, describing the adventurous Hancock as someone who “keeps more irons in the fire than a blacksmith on Benzedrine,” and the principals themselves are great storytellers. Describing the Flatlanders’ circuitous route to some semblance of success, Gilmore says, “Joe used to say that none of us had a thimbleful of ambition. But between the three of us, we had a towering lack of ambition.”

A celebration of music made in the spirit of friendship rather than careerism.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-292-74554-4

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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