This biography of the great comedienne spends too many pages on the early Lucy we didn't know and don't care much about. Brady (Ida Tarbell: Portrait of a Muckraker, 1984) traces Ball's life from her somewhat unsettled childhood in upstate New York through her modeling and acting career in Manhattan, her time as a Goldwyn girl, and her television successes, as well as personal and career failures with Desi Arnaz, and her reclusive last years. The biographer leaves few stones unturned in presenting Lucy as a woman who worked hard, loved harder, expected much of those around her, and was never satisfied with the adoration her fans bestowed upon her. Though the book is full of interesting and illuminating material—Desi's blatant affairs, the occasional violence of the Arnaz marriage, the complex negotiations that took place behind closed doors to produce ``I Love Lucy,'' in its day the most popular television show in America—Brady waits far too long before getting to the Lucy of TV that most readers will be able to remember and recognize. In particular, the almosts and could-have-beens of Ball's disappointing movie career receive too much attention; and although the author's access to Lucy's childhood and young-adult friends is impressive, she uses too many of their merely anecdotal stories. To be sure, there are nice moments, including Lucy's single date with Henry Fonda, her fastidious rehearsing of comedy bits, and her 1953 appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee (her grandfather had the whole family register as socialists in the '30s), but there's an overabundance of material that doesn't propel the story or offer significant insight. Too many fits and starts prevent this biography from making Lucy come alive. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 1994

ISBN: 0-7868-6007-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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 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...


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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