An engrossing and carefully documented account of a beloved film icon’s life.

ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS

A BIOGRAPHY OF ROCK HUDSON

A thoughtful exploration of the career and elusive private life of Rock Hudson (1925-1985).

It’s surprising that in the three decades since Hudson’s death, there has been little written about him that could be considered comprehensive. Previous biographies came from past lovers and friends, and each seemed to have an agenda, often salacious. Griffin (A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli, 2010) goes a long way toward rectifying this issue, casting a respectful light on some fresh as well as familiar details. The author begins with Hudson’s difficult childhood: Born Roy Scherer, he and his mother were abandoned by his father when he was just 5, and his mother would eventually remarry an abusive alcoholic. Griffin then moves on to his various jobs and his brief stint in the Navy before he arrived in Hollywood. Like Hudson’s friend Marilyn Monroe, his early recognition in Hollywood was largely attributed to his exceptional good looks, and he also experienced sexual exploitation on his path to stardom. He was taken under the wing of the powerful yet notoriously lecherous agent Henry Willson. After appearing in several largely forgettable films and signing a long-term contract with Universal Studios, Hudson established his mark as an accomplished actor and romantic lead under the guidance of talented directors such as Douglas Sirk and George Stevens. Yet it wasn’t until Pillow Talk (1959) that Hudson found his sweet spot as a versatile comedic actor. In the 1970s, he found renewed fame on TV as the star of the hit series McMillan & Wife. Griffin pays equal attention to Hudson’s private life as a sexually active yet closeted gay man, and he explores his complex relationships with both sexes. Throughout, he provides a balanced, multifaceted view of his subject. By the end of his life, having disclosed his exposure to HIV, his professional and private lives were forced to merge. Yet his death would bring much-needed recognition and funding to the AIDS epidemic.

An engrossing and carefully documented account of a beloved film icon’s life.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-240885-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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