If the Girl Scout troops of Beverly Hills need an illuminating manual for their Fundamentals of Successful Producing merit badge, this is it. And they can also use it as an object of meditation. In the late '70s, Obst left a good job as an editor at the New York Times Magazine to accompany her husband to L.A. This is her articulate memoir about the road to big-time Hollywood success (having started as mogul Peter Guber's ``d,'' for development girl, Obst produced Sleepless in Seattle and is finishing One Fine Day with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney). Obst lifts the discussion into the realm of Zen, physics, metaphysics, psychoanalysis, Kant, and evolutionary science (e.g., ``The velocity of change is so staggering it creates a kind of turbo-Darwinism, a revved-up struggle for survival in which one must constantly mutate to survive''). She's used every sort of philosophy, cosmology, spirituality, and professional connection, as well as the kitchen-sink advice of her Jewish mother, to ``narrate the chaos'' of Hollywood and to get her films produced. But happily, despite her industry reputation for toughness (Buzz magazine voted her one of Hollywood's biggest bullies), she quite generously mentors a new generation with this little gem about how to be a Girl Producer. She gives specific instructions about gaining entree, pitching a script (``Before the segue into the pitch, the producer has to prep the room. We do this by talking about the spouse, the boy/girlfriend or lack thereof, Gymboree, yoga, diets, the playoffs . . . any playoff will do''). She talks about professional agendas (``Never go to a meeting without a strategy''), making alliances, talking to stars. Though this isn't a feminist tract, except in the broadest and best sense, Obst celebrates the new phenomenon of ``chix in flix,'' women with lots and lots of power (and husbands). An up-close chance to meet a tough cookie who loves being a pro—and who probably wouldn't take your calls.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-62211-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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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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