Connolly carefully and sympathetically paints the many faces of Presley, faces eventually shrouded in despair.

BEING ELVIS

A LONELY LIFE

A veteran London-based journalist rehearses the rise and fall of Elvis Presley (1935-1977).

Connolly (The Ray Connolly Beatles Archive, 2016, etc.), who interviewed Presley while working for the London Evening Standard, is a fan as well as a stout critic, and his work is full of praise for his subject’s musicianship, voice, and work ethic. But the author is unblinking about the myriads of problems that Elvis faced, and created, throughout his career: his serial sexual infidelities, his wild spending, his failures as a friend, and, of course, his increasing reliance on drugs and his inability to defeat his demons. Near the end, we see an angry, paranoid man, offering himself as a federal drug agent to serve President Richard Nixon, carrying multiple firearms, and winging all over the country in search of peace. Connolly follows a conventional biographical path from Elvis’ impoverished birth in Tupelo, Mississippi, to his seclusion and death behind the gates of Graceland in Memphis. The author also focuses on his multiple musical talents, his determination to broaden his musical appeal, his influence on many musicians who followed him. There is a sad scene at Graceland when the Beatles—the latest superstars—arrive to pay homage. We see Elvis’ social awkwardness and the Beatles’ playfulness, and we yearn for a recording of the music they played together. Connolly also keeps us in touch with Elvis’ family—and his devotion to them—and to the relationship between Presley and his long-term manager, Col. Tom Parker, whose self-destructive gambling habits are astonishing. Parker would never let Elvis tour abroad, an odd insistence that cost them all millions in lost revenue. The author illuminates, as well, the many forgettable Presley films, his final years in Las Vegas, and the brutal touring schedule that ground him down.

Connolly carefully and sympathetically paints the many faces of Presley, faces eventually shrouded in despair.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63149-280-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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