Master-ful. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen)

ALFRED HITCHCOCK

A LIFE IN DARKNESS AND LIGHT

The Master of Suspense finally gets an authoritative life.

From his subtitle to his closing remarks, McGilligan (Clint: The Life and Legend, 2002, etc.) makes no secret of his agenda: to correct the excesses of Donald Spoto’s notorious The Dark Side of Genius, which presents a Hitchcock whose deepest creative energies were driven by fear, lust, and sadism. McGilligan’s Hitchcock, though not above hitting on actresses from Joan Fontaine to Brigitte Auber, is a devoted family man, generous to his relatives, generally kind to his associates (very few examples of his well-known proclivity for practical jokes on display here), level-headed in most of his business decisions, and always the consummate professional. From the short stories he published for his engineering firm’s trade magazine around 1920—material on which McGilligan is especially illuminating—to the trademark cinematic motifs (absurd MacGuffins, dominating mothers, staircases, light-footed shifts from comedy to melodrama) he recycled from film to film, Hitchcock comes across as inveterately playful, determined not so much to exorcise his private demons as to give audiences a shiveringly good time. Most of the colleagues who worked on the early British films from The Pleasure Garden (1925) to Jamaica Inn (1939) are no longer available to interviewers, but McGilligan, who has spoken with everyone available, taps as well into a torrent of Hitchcock scholarship, supplemented by explorations of numerous archives. His research is staggering, though often vaguely or incompletely documented. Apart from providing one-stop shopping for information on masterpieces from The 39 Steps to Psycho, he provides fascinating new insights on the origin of the sobriquet “Master of Suspense,” the identity of the first Hitchcock blond, even such a forgettable film as Torn Curtain, from Hitchcock’s abortive attempt to rope Vladimir Nabokov into writing the screenplay to the actual screenwriters’ race to remove their names from the finished film’s credits.

Master-ful. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-039322-X

Page Count: 832

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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 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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