Thorough research informs an often sordid, entertaining history.



Queer lives in Gilded Age America.

In 2003, while visiting San Francisco to celebrate her late grandmother’s life, Brown discovered, among her grandmother’s belongings, a photograph of a young, handsome man. She knew nothing about him at the time, but her discovery of Harrison Post sparked this absorbing debut book, a history of power, corruption, greed, and betrayal: her family’s saga. Her grandmother’s aunt had been the wife of millionaire tycoon and philanthropist William Andrews Clark Jr., who founded and supported the Los Angeles Philharmonic and established the monumental Clark Library at UCLA, where Clark housed his precious collection of Oscar Wilde letters. The son of a ruthless copper baron, half brother to the infamous recluse Huguette Clark, he was—like Brown—gay; Post was his lover. Aiming “to recuperate a lost gay history as a way to assert my own queer lineage,” the author uncovered a complicated tale: “a tangled, bewildering conspiracy about a man who’d been swept into one of the greatest fortunes in America only to be cast to the margins, a man taken captive in bizarre and gothic circumstances by his own family,” a man who survived imprisonment during World War II—and a man who proved to be a master of reinvention. Albert Weis Harrison met Clark Jr., a widower, when he was a salesman in Los Angeles. By then, Harrison had taken the surname Post, and soon he was traveling in Clark’s entourage as his secretary, living in his mansion as his ward, and benefiting from Clark’s considerable largesse. Drawing on archival material, Brown recounts the eventful trajectory of the men’s lives, the charges that they managed to avoid through bribery or subterfuge, and the shady business dealings that maintained Clark’s wealth. The author is forthright in portraying the Clark family’s ruthlessness—especially wielded by William Clark Sr.—as well as Gilded Age society’s relentless persecution of homosexuals.

Thorough research informs an often sordid, entertaining history.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313290-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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