An autobiography as toxic and addictive as any drug its author has ever ingested.

I AM OZZY

The legendary booze-addled metal rocker turned reality-TV star comes clean in his tell-all autobiography.

Although brought up in the bleak British factory town of Aston, John “Ozzy” Osbourne’s tragicomic rags-to-riches tale is somehow quintessentially American. It’s an epic dream/nightmare that takes him from Winson Green prison in 1966 to a presidential dinner with George W. Bush in 2004. Tracing his adult life from petty thief and slaughterhouse worker to rock star, Osbourne’s first-person slang-and-expletive-driven style comes off like he’s casually relating his story while knocking back pints at the pub. “What you read here,” he writes, “is what dribbled out of the jelly I call my brain when I asked it for my life story.” During the late 1960s his transformation from inept shoplifter to notorious Black Sabbath frontman was unlikely enough. In fact, the band got its first paying gigs by waiting outside concert venues hoping the regularly scheduled act wouldn’t show. After a few years, Osbourne and his bandmates were touring America and becoming millionaires from their riff-heavy doom music. As expected, with success came personal excess and inevitable alienation from the other members of the group. But as a solo performer, Osbourne’s predilection for guns, drink, drugs, near-death experiences, cruelty to animals and relieving himself in public soon became the stuff of legend. His most infamous exploits—biting the head off a bat and accidentally urinating on the Alamo—are addressed, but they seem tame compared to other dark moments of his checkered past: nearly killing his wife Sharon during an alcohol-induced blackout, waking up after a bender in the middle of a busy highway, burning down his backyard, etc. Osbourne is confessional to a fault, jeopardizing his demonic-rocker reputation with glib remarks about his love for Paul McCartney and Robin Williams. The most distinguishing feature of the book is the staggering chapter-by-chapter accumulation of drunken mishaps, bodily dysfunctions and drug-induced mayhem over a 40-plus-year career—a résumé of anti-social atrocities comparable to any of rock ’n’ roll’s most reckless outlaws.

An autobiography as toxic and addictive as any drug its author has ever ingested.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56989-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2009

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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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