A juicy, breezily told social history of La La Land, deal by deal.

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UNREAL ESTATE

MONEY, AMBITION, AND THE LUST FOR LAND IN LOS ANGELES

Location, location, location. Gross (Rogues' Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum, 2009, etc.) presents a history of Los Angeles land development that is rich in incident and full of thwarted ambition, visionary zeal and conspicuous consumption.

The book will appeal mainly to those who first turn to the real-estate section of the newspaper, those armchair moguls who salivate at the specs of sumptuous mansions and impossibly tony addresses. The author is generous with salacious gossip about such families as the Bells, the Greens and the Jansses, socially ambitious builders who forged such exclusive havens for the rich as Bel Air and Beverly Hills and whose family histories are rife with alcoholism, bitter infighting, sex scandals and suicide. This being L.A., there are also accounts of the housing adventures of movie stars such as Harold Lloyd, whose pleasure palace Greenacres, with its opulent screening room, tennis courts and bowling alley, stands as a monument to fun—a welcome respite from the unlovely status-driven mania of much of the book’s sprawling cast. Gross has clearly done his research, and many anecdotes—such as the extremes taken by the owners of the manse seen in the opening credits of the Beverly Hillbillies to shield their property from invasive tourists—have a comic snap that enliven the proceedings. In addition, there is schadenfreude to be found in the accounts of overreaching billionaires and scandal-rocked social-register types. However, the endless tallying of who sold what to whom for how much becomes wearying, and a gradual feeling of disgust at so much money and ego run amok is difficult to avoid.

A juicy, breezily told social history of La La Land, deal by deal.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7679-3265-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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