An entertaining, revealing portrait of the artist as a young—and old—rocker.

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

CONFESS

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

The lead singer of Judas Priest comes clean.

Confession is good for the soul, and Halford, who calls himself “a gay heavy metal Christian,” has mostly sins of the flesh and not of the soul to own up to. At the beginning of the book, the author recounts wandering through his Midlands hometown, worrying about something that absorbed him for years: Though he was the frontman for one of the world’s biggest rock acts, he couldn’t bring himself to come out to his fans. “Would it kill Judas Priest?” As it happened, Halford sent enough signals out over the years that neither his band mates nor his fans were surprised when he finally did come out—though, interestingly, he waited until embarking on a solo act to do so. He knew he was gay when he was 10, a realization that followed another one: Called on to sing before admiring schoolmates, he also discovered that he loved the stage. Much of this well-crafted narrative involves love sought and lost, including a few unsatisfying one-sided relationships with men who turned out to be straight. Halford also reveals himself to be a fan as well as a star, smitten by the likes of Bowie and Bolan, Mercury and Madonna. A discerning critic, he doesn’t spare himself for failures of judgment and performance. The band’s debut album, Rocka Rolla, “made absolutely no impression on the charts and got virtually no airplay” while “Point of Entry was Priest on autopilot.” Yet when they were on, they were peerless, with superb albums like British Steel putting their rivals to shame. Readers will admire Halford for those accomplishments while being amazed that he survived the endless coke-and-booze sessions that preceded his rehab; he proudly notes that he’s been clean and sober for decades and has no intentions of quitting the stage even in his 70s. A revelation, drawn from band history: “This Is Spinal Tap…wasn’t a satire: it was a documentary.” One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

An entertaining, revealing portrait of the artist as a young—and old—rocker.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-306-87494-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2020

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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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