Perhaps overlong, this gem of a biography should be the standard reference on an indisputable musical genius.

HERBERT VON KARAJAN

A LIFE IN MUSIC

A superb biography of a great conductor who was dogged by controversy throughout his career.

Born in Salzburg in 1908, Karajan's career began to flourish in 1935. When offered his first important position, Karajan was asked to join the Nazi Party, and he did so—an action that would later cause him considerable grief. Osborne, a music journalist for the BBC, comes to the conclusion that, at worst, Karajan was guilty of ambition and opportunism but little else. Tackling the issue head-on, Osborne provides convincing evidence that Karajan, still quite young at the time of Hitler's rise, was no favorite of the Nazi elite and did little official work for the party. After marrying Anita Güttermann, who was one-quarter Jewish, he got less and less work as time went on and was, by war's end, essentially unemployed. Osborne quotes violinist Nathan Milstein, who noted that Russian colleagues David Oistrach and Leonid Kogin both joined the Communist Party but were never held accountable for Stalin's crimes. He then writes, `Political and ethical relativism is one of the reasons why Soviet artists who were party members were never pursued in the Western media the way German artists were. Way back to the time when pioneering British socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb excused the mass murder of the kulaks . . . there has been a long history of toleration—even on occasion justification—of ‘Uncle Joe' Stalin's acts of genocide that would be unthinkable in the case of Hitler's.` Statements like that are bound to generate controversy, but Osborne provides a compelling case for Karajan's innocence, and he backs it with copious documentation. Controversy aside, Osborne is a wonderful biographer and offers a hugely entertaining trove of information and anecdotes about Karajan, his many colleagues, and the classical music world during most of the 20th century. Osborne also possesses that rare gift among writers on music: the ability to write about it in language that both musicians and non-musicians can understand and enjoy.

Perhaps overlong, this gem of a biography should be the standard reference on an indisputable musical genius.

Pub Date: May 15, 2000

ISBN: 1-55553-425-2

Page Count: 851

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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