A must-read for pop-music lovers.

CORN FLAKES WITH JOHN LENNON

AND OTHER TALES FROM A ROCK ’N’ ROLL LIFE

An influential rock critic shares highlights from more than 40 years in the business.

Longtime Los Angeles Times pop-music journalist Hilburn (Springsteen, 1986, etc.) looks back on the path he followed into what he calls “the best job in the world,” from a boyhood spent listening to his uncle’s blues and country records in Louisiana to a stint as a reporter for his San Fernando Valley high-school newspaper, for which he reviewed Elvis Presley in Love Me Tender. The book is not exactly a memoir, but rather a review of the major developments in popular music that the author played a part in shaping, both as a prescient champion of performers (Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and U2, for example) and as a sensitive interviewer who earned the trust of some of the most notoriously difficult subjects in music (most notably, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan). Fans of Springsteen, Dylan and U2 will be thrilled to find multiple chapters devoted to their idols, who are clearly Hilburn’s favorites as well. He generously shares pages of quotes from his interviews on subjects ranging from musical influences—not surprisingly, almost everyone cites Elvis—and the craft of songwriting to the difficulty of maintaining a personal life apart from career and celebrity. The most intriguing sections, however, are the glimpses into the private lives of a who’s who of popular music in the 20th century: Johnny Cash preparing to take the stage at Folsom Prison and, late in life, at a rural Virginia barn dance; Colonel Parker keeping a tight rein on Elvis in Vegas; John Lennon sneaking chocolate and relishing cornflakes and cream at the Dakota; Michael Jackson pillow-fighting with six-year-olds while Brooke Shields and her mother waited for a date; Courtney Love beside herself worrying about Kurt Cobain. Because the incidents illustrate Hilburn’s main points about the character of the acts he believes are most worth listening to, the gossip is guilt-free.

A must-read for pop-music lovers.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59486-921-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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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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