Maddow’s own voice dominates a brisk, largely by-the-numbers biography.



Journalist Rogak (Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart, 2014, etc.), who has profiled Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, rounds out her take on controversial TV personalities with a breezy biography of MSNBC anchor and political pundit Rachel Maddow.

Rachel, as the author chummily refers to her, has spoken candidly about herself in many print interviews, speeches, and talk show appearances, material that Rogak liberally mines. The result is a book so filled with quotations that it reads like a very long interview. Readers will discover that Maddow first came out as an undergraduate at Stanford, where she became “the most visible out lesbian on campus” and involved herself in gay and lesbian organizations. She also devoted herself to AIDS activism, choosing courses that would give her a rigorous background in public policy and health policy. A stellar student, she won a prestigious Rhodes scholarship that funded a doctorate program at Oxford, where she wrote a thesis on “HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons.” Returning to the U.S., Maddow continued activism and floated among menial jobs before she landed a gig at a local radio station, where “she was surprised to discover that the thing she enjoyed most was to provide her own spin on the topics of the day.” Rogak reiterates Maddow’s goal to “help people” by “disseminating information backed by knowledge and fact and tempered with concern and more than a little bit of humor.” In 2004, she graduated from the local station to the newly formed Air America, where she started as a “rip-and-read newsgirl” and ended with her own two-hour show. In 2008, MSNBC offered her an exclusive contract. Among Rogak’s revelations is Maddow’s love of making artfully crafted cocktails; her meticulous pre-show preparation, spurred by her fear of failure; and her reluctance to marry her beloved partner because of “qualms” about assimilating into the mainstream and losing her identity with gay culture.

Maddow’s own voice dominates a brisk, largely by-the-numbers biography.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-29824-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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