An enthusiastic portrayal of an iconic performer.

ELVIS IN VEGAS

HOW THE KING REINVENTED THE LAS VEGAS SHOW

In a spectacular Las Vegas show, Elvis Presley (1935-1977) revived his flagging career.

Entertainment journalist Zoglin (Hope: Entertainer of the Century, 2014, etc.) uses Elvis’ 1969 comeback to recount a history of Las Vegas from 1931, when Nevada became the first state to legalize gambling, to its current iteration as a vacation destination boasting lavish, theme park–like hotels, designer shops, gourmet restaurants, blockbuster performers (Celine Dion, Elton John, and Lady Gaga, to name a few), and high-tech, hugely expensive extravaganzas, such as Cirque du Soleil. Before focusing on Elvis, the author reprises stories about “the boozing, macho Rat Pack” and many other headliners who drew crowds at the city’s glitziest hotel, the Sands. “Sinatra was the king,” Zoglin writes, “Vegas’s undisputed Most Valuable Player,” selling out his shows and attracting wealthy gamblers to the casinos. The 1960s, though, saw a “seismic shift, in music as well as in the rest of the culture”; along with the advent of rock ’n’ roll and the Beatles, tumultuous political events such as Vietnam, anti-war protests, and civil rights activism all affected the Vegas strip. Elvis, too, had gone through “a rough decade…in many ways a disastrous one.” His early trajectory to fame had been interrupted by two years of military service. When he returned in 1960, at the advice of his domineering manager Col. Tom Parker, he gave up live performing, instead appearing in a spate of lackluster movies. By 1969, writes the author, both Elvis and Parker agreed that he needed to return to the concert stage—beginning with Vegas. Drawing on scores of interviews, Zoglin paints a vibrant picture of Elvis’ thrilling, electrical presence: “everyone was dumbstruck,” one woman said. “It was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen.” Elvis’ performance, writes the author, “set a new standard for Las Vegas. The star was now his own spectacle.” Sadly, success proved brief: Less than a decade later, the star was dead.

An enthusiastic portrayal of an iconic performer.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5119-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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