With a novelist’s eye for telling details, Katz offers a colorful, perceptive and riveting portrait of a remarkable artistic...

THE PARTNERSHIP

BRECHT, WEILL, THREE WOMEN, AND GERMANY ON THE BRINK

The explosive collaboration of two brilliant artists.

When composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) met in 1927, they were certain they had much in common: Both were artistic iconoclasts; both believed that art must address social, political and philosophical issues; both were intent on “liberating culture from its elitist jail cell.” As screenwriter and novelist Katz shows in this deft, incisive cultural history, despite their artistic affinities, what divided them made their six-year partnership volatile and, finally, impossible. Weill was self-disciplined, quiet and unwilling to let distractions—women, political activism—get in the way of his work. When he fell in love with singer/actress Lotte Lenya, he married her. Brecht was messy, noisy, cynical and undaunted by scandal. By the late 1920s, he was involved with three women: his wife, Marianne Zoff, with whom he had a daughter; actress Helene Weigel, with whom he had a son; and writer and translator Elisabeth Hauptmann. Although Weigel and Hauptmann energetically pursued their own careers, they were remarkably devoted to Brecht, acquiescing to his many demands but giving him the space and freedom he desired (Weigel moved into her own apartment after their son was born so the infant would not disturb Brecht). As Weigel described him, he was “a very faithful man—unfortunately to too many people.” Katz focuses most on Weill and Brecht’s two famous collaborations: the bawdy, irreverent Mahaganny, a musical play about a mythical American town dominated by greed; and The Threepenny Opera, a blatant critique of injustice, corruption and hypocritical morality, which made Lenya a star. Their work incensed the Nazis, and in 1933, both men—and Lenya, Weigel and Hauptmann—fled. Weill eventually had a successful career in the United States; Brecht, after years in exile, returned to East Germany.

With a novelist’s eye for telling details, Katz offers a colorful, perceptive and riveting portrait of a remarkable artistic partnership.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0385534918

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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