An excellent pop-culture biography.

PAUL MCCARTNEY

A LIFE

Thorough portrait of “the Cute Beatle,” from his working-class childhood in Liverpool through his raucous years with the Fab Four and his continued musical output.

The Beatles are one of the most beloved rock bands of all time, and each member’s personal legacy is shaped by adoration, gossip and myth. This is especially true of McCartney, who receives long-overdue fair treatment in this insightful biography based on original interviews and careful research. Former People senior writer and current Oregonian pop-culture contributor Carlin (Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, 2006, etc.) firmly establishes McCartney’s role as the Beatles’ music director and formal taskmaster. He also exposes the nuances of his brilliant yet highly competitive personal and professional relationship with John Lennon and debunks several myths regarding his role in the band’s dissolution and the bitter lawsuits that followed. Along with Yoko Ono, McCartney has often been construed in Beatles lore as the villain, while Lennon is elevated to sainthood. The reality was much more complicated, and Carlin’s balanced portrayal of all the Beatles’ virtues and flaws is commendable. He not only debunks several unflattering myths about McCartney, but is also just to Ono and shows Lennon at times to be quite cruel. Carlin’s metaphor for the band as a family—with McCartney as the hardworking, underappreciated mother, Lennon as the magnetic but ne’er-do-well father, George as the sulky teen and Ringo as the small child with a toy train—feels apt. While the book loses some of its tension and momentum in the later chapters, parts are still emotionally fraught, most notably McCartney’s last moments with his wife Linda, his messy divorce from Heather Mills and his reaction to Harrison’s death. Carlin intersperses the narrative with snippets of song lyrics, which are fitting at times but occasionally stall the narrative flow.

An excellent pop-culture biography.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6209-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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