ABBIE HOFFMAN

AMERICAN REBEL

A thoughtful, solidly researched biography of the wildly creative and iconoclastic yippie, portraying Hoffman as a fresh force in American political culture—and as a man ultimately sabotaged by bipolar disorder (manic-depression), which drove him to extremes and probably led to his suicide. In 1988, Jezer (the children's book Rachel Carson, 1978) ran into Hoffman in an airport. A veteran activist and countercultural journalist who'd known the famed radical from the early hippie days on the Lower East Side until the violent days on the streets of Chicago in 1968, Jezer embraced Hoffman and listened with growing unease as the time-battered yippie ranted on and on about how great everything was going. Hoffman would be dead the next year. From this almost Dostoyevskian image of a radical out of balance, consumed by his own raging misplaced energy (in this case, the hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder), Jezer traces Hoffman's early influences. From the time he was a middle-class Jewish teenager in Worcester, Mass., Hoffman loved to play the rebel street-fighting man. It was the famous humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow, his professor at Brandeis, however, who inspired Hoffman to conceive of political protest as a positive expression, a means of self- actualization. In the ``Yippie!'' movement, founded with Jerry Rubin, Hoffman sought to fuse the creativity and individualism of the counterculture with the righteous spirit of the antiwar movement. Here, Hoffman appears as his own best creation—half Lenny Bruce, half political shaman, throwing cash off the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange, trying to levitate the Pentagon, proclaiming himself a member of the ``Woodstock Nation,'' not a place but a beautiful, free state of mind. Hoffman—and a whole doomed, inspired era—emerges vividly in this cleareyed, richly detailed work. (Photographs—24 pages b&w- -not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8135-1850-4

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Rutgers Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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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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