A shimmering, occasionally breathless report that should fill in many of the cracks in readers’ knowledge of pop-music...

WHEN THEY WERE BOYS

THE TRUE STORY OF THE BEATLES' RISE TO THE TOP

A spirited jump down the rabbit hole to the early years of what would become the Beatles, from TV news anchor and Beatles chronicler Kane (Lennon Revealed, 2005, etc.).

The author details the many characters and moments in time that shaped the Beatles into the band that rocketed onto American shores in 1964. Despite being occasionally starry-eyed and corny, Kane writes with an evocative clarity, attention to detail and familiarity. He transports readers back to 1950s Liverpool and turn-of-the-decade Hamburg, to the childhood homes of the Fab Four as well as original drummer Pete Best and original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. Kane reminds us that the Quarrymen, the Silver Beetles, the Silver Beatles and the early Beatles were a dance band: Fans went to a concert to move, to dance, and at that, the Beatles excelled long before all the screaming. But it was a serious grind to get to the point where they were finally filling clubs, and their first visit to Hamburg in 1960 was one of those near-turning points, when the grind had ground them down, the living conditions vile—they slept for months next to the toilet (John, after popping one speed pill over the line: “I would be wide awake staring around, wondering if the dirt would cake up inside me”)—the payback not worth the effort. The Beatles almost dissolved before they had a chance to change the course of popular music. Kane takes special care to get the characters right, whether they are remembered or forgotten, fleshing them out without bogging down the story. Indeed, one of the pleasures of this book is its brightness, written not just for the converted, but for anyone who has even a vague interest in this slice of history.

A shimmering, occasionally breathless report that should fill in many of the cracks in readers’ knowledge of pop-music history.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7624-4014-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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