A lively—and often sordid—Hollywood history.

A history that shows clearly how powerful men exploited actresses long before the #MeToo movement began.

Hollywood historian Longworth (Hollywood Frame by Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997, 2014, etc.) has mined memoirs, biographies, magazines, newspapers, and archives to create an entertaining, gossip-filled portrait of the film capital’s golden age, from the 1920s through the 1960s. Central to the story is the enormously wealthy, paranoid, and erratic Howard Hughes (1905-1976), businessman and aviator, whose self-proclaimed goal was “to become the world’s most famous motion picture producer” and whose leering desire for buxom young actresses represented the proclivities of many other men in the industry. These were women “whose faces and bodies Hughes strove to possess and/or make iconic, sometimes at an expense to their minds and souls.” They were harassed, abused, surveilled, and, in some cases, imprisoned by a man with the money and power to make or break their careers. Hughes, writes the author, “was not the only mogul in Hollywood who profited off treating actresses as sex goddess flavors of the month, good for consumption in a brief window but disposable as soon as the next variety came along,” but he acted “more crudely, and with even less of a regard for the person these actresses were before they came into his life.” Those actresses range from the barely remembered (Billie Dove, Faith Domergue) to major stars: Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn (who shared Hughes’ home for a while), Bette Davis, Ida Lupino (whose directing career Hughes supported), Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, and Jean Peters (whom Hughes, uncharacteristically, married). Hughes was so famous that he could lure women merely by promising them future stardom: Choosing a young woman’s photo from a newspaper or magazine, he sent a team of men to track her down, have his own photographer take new pictures, and, if he was pleased, invite her to Hollywood—and took control of her life. The media, dazzled by his self-created myth, perpetuated his image as an iconoclastic folk hero.

A lively—and often sordid—Hollywood history.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-244051-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018


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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