A revealing, absorbing book for those who keep their old ticket stubs close at hand.

ROCK CONCERT

AN ORAL HISTORY AS TOLD BY THE ARTISTS, BACKSTAGE INSIDERS, AND FANS WHO WERE THERE

A multifaceted account of the rise of the rock show from the birth of the genre until Live Aid in 1985.

In the beginning, writes music journalist Myers, the rock concert was an impromptu affair. Songwriter Mike Stoller recalls that in the 1940s and ’50s, nightclubs staged shows with several acts on the ticket, and DJs would do same-day announcements when they came together. “White kids who otherwise never would have heard of these events found their way there,” he notes. Black music drew ever larger White crowds thanks to those DJs, foremost among them Alan Freed in Cleveland; as they did, the limits of segregation were tested. Wanda Jackson, the pioneering rockabilly singer, remembers that in the South, the most spacious venues were state fairs, but eventually, rock shows began to move into concert halls once reserved for higher-toned music. There, acts like the Beach Boys could draw huge (and largely White) crowds. As audiences grew, music marathons such as the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 began to take shape. Then the music changed, at least by the lights of documentarian D.A. Pennebaker. Whereas Broadway tunes were about the notion that life is good, he notes, rock tunes sounded change: “They were saying, ‘This isn’t friendly music. It’s a warning.’ Which is why the cameras in Monterey Pop [Pennebaker’s documentary] gravitate toward the oddness of the concert with a childlike curiosity.” Myers charts the technological changes as well: the development of vast PA systems that enabled concert stalwarts like the Grateful Dead to send their sound out for miles; the wireless electric guitar; and complex stage-lighting systems and props that made Pink Floyd’s The Wall an unforgettable live experience. Closing with the Live Aid benefit of 1985, Myers notes that the rock concert continued but grew sclerotic (and expensive), so that “by the 2000s, the rock concert had fizzled as a rite of passage and was more of an event parents took children along to experience.”

A revealing, absorbing book for those who keep their old ticket stubs close at hand.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8021-5791-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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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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