STEAL THIS DREAM

ABBIE HOFFMAN AND THE COUNTERCULTURE REVOLUTION AGAINST AMERICA

Abbie Hoffman, cut and pasted—and so made whole. This Edie-style oral biography by Howard Stern collaborator Sloman (also the author of Thin Ice, not reviewed, etc.) consists of hundreds of quotations from dozens of interviewees, including Hoffman, who died in 1989. The assembled cast includes Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, William Kunstler, Tom Hayden, Daniel Ellsberg, G. Gordon Liddy, Jerry Rubin, Grace Slick, and Hoffman’s siblings, parents, wives, and children. Hoffman, a Worcester, Mass., native and sexually experienced Brandeis student in the 1950s went on to become an organizer in Mississippi for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Later, in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, he fell in with the Diggers, a group of actors-turned-activists, soon thereafter gaining his first major exposure with future Yippies co-leader Jerry Rubin at a photo-op money-burning at the New York Stock Exchange in 1967. As Art Goldberg puts it, after his trial for his role in the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention riots, Hoffman was more than a radical, he was a media celebrity. Later, he befriended John Lennon and Yoko Ono, became an outlaw and a hustler, and drifted into drug-dealing. Busted in the ’70s, he went underground for much of the decade. Sloman’s choice of the oral biography technique, on one level an exceedingly lazy, and sometimes confusing, approach (the reader is given zero context for most speakers or their comments), comes to seem an eminently reasonable device for writing the life of the radical activist and author whose own literary works tended to aspire toward “anti-books.— Readers will feel for Hoffman’s son, America, who after his father’s death wished he could just talk to Abbie, man to man. And Ginsberg neatly analyzes the subject’s legacy when he says Hoffman’s idea for social revolution was premature, noting that its fruition came in eastern Europe 20 years later. Through sometimes contradictory voices and fractured perspectives, Hoffman as a person, with his moral strength and personal vulnerabilities, slowly—and surprisingly—comes into a sort of focus. (40 b&w photos) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-41162-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998

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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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