A likely definitive exploration of the director’s distinguished career—of great interest to budding filmmakers and film...

SIDNEY LUMET

A LIFE

A well-grounded biography of the American director’s expansive career.

Throughout a prolific career, Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) emerged as one of the most acclaimed directors of his time, recognized for his accomplishments in theater, TV, and, especially, film (Twelve Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, etc.). In this first significant biography of Lumet, Spiegel (Literature and Film/Columbia Univ.; co-author: The Breast Book: An Intimate and Curious History, 2002, etc.) offers a comprehensive study of this multifaceted filmmaker, thoughtfully examining the creative and personal forces that influenced his work. The author traces his early years as a child actor performing in Yiddish theater at age 5 through his work on Broadway as a teenager and his enlistment in the Army during World War II. After the war, Lumet’s interest quickly shifted from acting to directing for the theater. In the early days of TV, he firmly hit his stride, mastering the quickly evolving technical craft of directing for live TV, which included directing diverse groups of actors while remaining mindfully efficient with tight schedules and budgets. These skills would benefit his later work on film. Spiegel comfortably weaves elements of Lumet’s personal life into her narrative, touching on his complex relationship with his father, Baruch, also a theater actor in his day; his four marriages (Gloria Vanderbilt was his second wife); two children; and his expansive network of show business friends. Yet the author shines brightest in her illumination of Lumet’s skills as a director. Beyond offering knowledgeable film summaries, she deftly examines the technical artistry he brought to each project. “Sidney never stopped experimenting,” writes Spiegel. “He was constantly working with new actors, new equipment, new genres, and new techniques. Throughout his career he drew upon his earlier experiences in radio, theater, television, and film to expand beyond his comfort zones and break new ground as both an artist and a citizen.”

A likely definitive exploration of the director’s distinguished career—of great interest to budding filmmakers and film enthusiasts.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-03015-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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