Essential for Deadheads but also an engaging cultural portrait for anyone interested in the era.

BEAR

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AUGUSTUS OWSLEY STANLEY III

The high life and low times of the original Acid King.

Augustus Owsley Stanley III (1935-2011), aka “Bear,” may not be a widely known counterculture figure, but the 1960s wouldn’t have been the same without him. He was Walter White without all the moral conflict or drama, a trailblazing alchemist who mass-produced LSD and made millions before anyone thought to make it illegal. As presented by prolific rock scribe Greenfield (Ain't It Time We Said Goodbye: The Rolling Stones on the Road to Exile, 2014, etc.) in this amiable life story, Stanley was the kind of peripatetic loser who flunked out at everything but drugs. Once he discovered the hallucinogen, he drew on his jack-of-all-trades skills and the expertise of his chemist girlfriend to produce it in large quantities. The result was a product known for both its intensity and purity; as Steely Dan would later sing of Stanley, “on the hill, the stuff was laced with kerosene / But yours was kitchen clean.” Stanley thought of himself as a gourmet chef, a “master of fine mental cuisine.” He would also become the key backstage figure for the Grateful Dead, whom he helped bankroll in their early days, as well as becoming their legendary recording engineer. Greenfield recounts Stanley’s life with an ample amount of interviews from his subject as well as family members and the surviving members of the Dead; all remember a generally likable, if frustrating and paranoid, control freak. As a subject, Bear remains interesting long after his era has passed, although the book loses some energy toward the end, as Greenfield describes the quotidian details of the day leading up to Bear’s fatal 2011 car wreck.

Essential for Deadheads but also an engaging cultural portrait for anyone interested in the era.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-08121-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more