Another solid addition to the series in which the author brings the seriousness his subject deserves.

STAN LEE

A LIFE IN COMICS

An analysis that goes deeper than most into the metaphysical vision of comics pioneer Stan Lee (1922-2018).

In the latest volume in the publisher’s Jewish Lives series, Leibovitz necessarily focuses on Lee’s essential Jewishness and indicates that his life and legacy deserve academic scrutiny. As an author and commentator who works closely with many Jewish media outlets (he is a senior editor at Tablet) and who has previously published on Jewish subjects, he has the right credentials for the subject. Most importantly, however, Leibovitz brings to the project a deep love for—and knowledge of—the comic-book world that Lee created and how that world impacted popular culture and vice versa. With Marvel Studios now dominating the movie industry, one is less likely to underestimate the popular reach of Spider-Man or the Avengers, but Leibovitz argues that most are missing the big picture, that even serious scholarly attention has been “focusing on history and sociology but rarely on philosophy and theology.” The author’s analysis is not exactly an introduction or a primer, and it will most satisfy those who are already well versed in the Marvel universe, the Talmud, and the cultural and political upheavals that so profoundly impacted the thematic progression of Lee’s empire. Leibovitz wants readers to recognize the cultural parallels between comic books and rock ’n’ roll, to see Lee as a kindred spirit with “another gnomic Jewish artist, Bob Dylan,” and to see how “his comic books, like Dylan’s songs, have become vast cultural canvasses onto which anyone interested in the art form can paint his or her own interpretations, an ongoing dialogue with the artist that mirrors the ancient Talmudic logic of constant conversation and disputation.” The author also touches on Lee’s gift for self-mythologizing and the charges that, as a collaborator, he has taken more credit than is his due.

Another solid addition to the series in which the author brings the seriousness his subject deserves.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23034-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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