A palimpsestic, personal, and resonant journey with a living musical encyclopedia.

MUSIC IS HISTORY

The iconic drummer, composer, and DJ tracks modern American history through music and vice versa.

Each chapter focuses on a specific year, beginning with 1971, when Questlove was born, and is structured around “a song that represents some idea connected to history: how it was experienced at the time, or how it is learned and understood, or what figures surface within it, or how different versions of it are reconciled, or how they cannot be.” Interspersed throughout are lists of songs—and the author’s commentary on each—divided into categories—e.g., songs worthy of being reinstated into communal memory; and hip-hop “deep cuts that…need to be excavated”; and songs in E minor, a key that “isn’t just a way of life for funk songs, but a world unto itself. In grappling with the mass of E-minor songs, I have divided the E-minor theme into two camps, the songs that get over and the songs that under­whelm.” Questlove also revisits songs by other artists on which he played drums. The scope of the book, like the author’s vinyl collection, is enormous, yet his tone makes for a fascinating, page-turning read. Whether he’s making a case that hip-hop was “at least in part a direct reaction to disco” or describing Bill Withers as his first true idol, Questlove makes for an engaging, dynamic narrator—just as he was in his excellent memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues (2013). Events, he writes, “can feel like closed boxes until we find our way in….And that’s why I decided to put ‘Does Everyone Stare’ [by The Police] not in 1979, the year it came out, but in 1981, the year it came out to me.” The author adds private stories such as the day, in 1993, when the Roots were signed by Geffen and his mother told him she was divorcing his father. From explicating protest songs to sampling, Questlove continuously encourages readers to cross-reference historical happenings and to read (and think) critically.

A palimpsestic, personal, and resonant journey with a living musical encyclopedia.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5143-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Abrams Image

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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