Hopefully Kalb is back at his desk; readers will be eager for the next volume.



The second installment in Kalb’s personal story, following The Year I Was Peter the Great (2017).

In his latest detailed chronicle, which he aptly calls “a long letter home after an unforgettable personal adventure,” the author moves forward from his time as a young diplomatic attaché at the American Embassy in Moscow in 1956. A year later, he was hired by Edward R. Murrow to work at CBS News headquarters, and in 1960, he landed his dream job as Moscow correspondent for the network. Kalb engagingly narrates his remarkable journey, from doctoral student in Russian history at Harvard to author and CBS Moscow correspondent in just a few years. As part of Murrow’s devoted “band of brothers,” Kalb was set on a fast-track ascent through the ranks, and he distinguished himself with his unique expertise on Russian politics at a time of daily perilous news from Cold War Moscow. Though he did not know how to write a radio newscast when he first arrived at the empty CBS newsroom on Madison Avenue, Kalb was a fast, eager learner, and he quickly made himself indispensable. It wasn’t long before he was contributing commentary for Blair Clark on the news roundup The World Tonight and then for Murrow himself on his national newscast. In addition to his entertaining personal story, including his burgeoning relationship with his wife and his diligent work in producing his first book, Kalb’s in-the-moment narrative provides an illuminating snapshot of such early newsroom characters as William Shirer, Dallas Townsend, Walter Cronkite, Charles Kuralt, Lowell Thomas, and Howard K. Smith, among many others. Kalb’s fond, generous memoir, which vividly delineates a bygone era of early journalism, will appeal to students of 20th-century American history as well as aspiring broadcast journalists. The author was involved in many significant Cold War moments, and he brings us directly into that world.

Hopefully Kalb is back at his desk; readers will be eager for the next volume.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8157-3896-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Brookings Institution Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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