Sheer heaven for movie buffs.



Superb bio of the high living, larger-than-life film producer, spellbindingly detailed by Harper’s Bazaar European editor Fraser-Cavassoni.

The author, who in 1982 worked as an assistant on Sam Spiegel’s production of Betrayal (written by her stepfather, Harold Pinter), was so intrigued by his flamboyant personality and reticence about his past that she made it her business to track down his origins. Born in western Galicia (now southeastern Poland) in 1901, Spiegel preferred to gloss over his humble Jewish roots; when asked his birthplace, he’d usually name Vienna. (In fact, he had attended the University of Vienna.) He emigrated to Palestine, married, and seven years later abandoned wife and daughter to sail for San Francisco. He returned to Berlin and Vienna to cut his producing teeth on several films and in 1939 came back to the US, hitting his stride a few years later as producer of Tales of Manhattan in 1942 and Orson Welles’s The Stranger in 1946. At one point, Spiegel had so many creditors that he changed his name to S.P. Eagle. Still, though, often penniless, he gave fantastic parties—his New Year’s Eve bashes were legendary—attended by all the big stars and directors. He produced many of the classic films of the 1950s and ’60s: The African Queen, On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, etc. He also infuriated three wives with his penchant for young girls, top fashion models, young actresses, and high-class prostitutes; he was known to interrupt business meetings to arrange his sex life. Meanwhile, his relentless methods and empty promises as a producer prompted Hollywood to invent the words “Spiegelese” and “to Spiegel.” A sublime cast of characters—John Huston, David Lean, Marlon Brando, Peter O’Toole, Faye Dunaway, Bogey and Bacall, Warren Beatty, Mike Nichols, Elia Kazan—adds to the fun. It even seems right that Spiegel died on New Year’s Eve in 1985.

Sheer heaven for movie buffs.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-684-83619-X

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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