Sometimes petty, often inspired: a gleeful death knell for the media industry as we know it.




A media pundit delivers the unexciting news that big media is doomed—but does it with good humor.

The chattering classes—a swath of Manhattan real estate that starts in Midtown and branches uptown into the Upper East and Upper West Sides—is almost by definition a world of inveterate gossips, snitches, and I-told-you-sos. In this self-important but ultimately silly world, Wolff (Burn Rate, 1998) is the biggest and (and often silliest) gossip of them all. Fortunately, he’s an entertaining one. Wolff refreshingly makes no bones about being just as cruel and vindictive as the media in general, and he digs with great relish into the giants who have so thoroughly trashed the mediascape. He structures it all around a 2002 conference in which he was allowed to interview onstage (albeit via satellite) the titan of titans: Rupert Murdoch. But the conference—as well as an ongoing thread about the AOL Time Warner merger, which he calls “the worst deal ever made”—is really just a clothesline on which he can hang all his portraits of the moguls (or “mediaists,” as he calls them) he hasn’t yet been able to squeeze into his New York magazine column. Mostly it comes down to who’s really “stupid” and who’s not. Murdoch and Barry Diller earn a generous amount of respect, but based mostly on the amount of fear they instill in the author. Tina Brown and Martha Stewart get piled on, FCC chair Michael Powell is called “not just puffed up—at once both epicene and porcine,” and Jean-Marie Messier . . . well, it’s not pretty. Again, to be fair, Wolff slaps himself with the same hand that flips the finger at failing mediaists, describing himself as “a gnat feeding on the carcass of the media industry.”

Sometimes petty, often inspired: a gleeful death knell for the media industry as we know it.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-62113-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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