Frothy and honest remembrances for gossipy movie fans.

I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES

MEMORIES OF HOLLYWOOD'S LEGENDARY ACTRESSES

A popular actor’s “love letter to actresses.”

Wagner (You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age, 2014, etc.), now 86, returns with another installment of his life in the movies, this time focusing on the Hollywood ladies, many of whom he knew quite well thanks to a long career. If he didn’t work with them, he knew them socially or personally. His knowledge of Hollywood film history is prodigious. Don’t expect any bad-mouthing or dirt; “this is a book about character and craft, talent and genius, respect and love.” Mostly. Wagner admits to having a “brief, ships-in-the-night fling” with Joan Crawford, who had an “infectious personality and a huge drive.” Actresses, writes the author, “have it harder” than actors, and they also have shorter careers—“for every Meryl Streep there are ten Demi Moores and Meg Ryans, women who earned major salaries and major parts for precisely as long as they were the Hot Young Girl.” The actress cavalcade breezes by chronologically. Wagner starts in the 1930s and ends in the ’80s, with short chapters on two wives: Natalie Wood (“complicated”) and Jill St. John (a “good actress”). The author is succinct and pithy at giving a sense/opinion of who they were as people and what their strengths were as actresses. Gloria Swanson was “incisive,” “industrious” and “imperious.” Neither Jean Harlow nor Mae West was “particularly beautiful,” but both “made sex safe for the middle class.” Although Bette Davis was a “small woman,” she came into the “movie frame with a rush.” Marilyn Monroe was a “sweet, nervous girl” who became a “legend.” Some readers might find Wagner sexist and old-fashioned. Looks matter to him. Harlow had a “spectacular body” she liked to display; Jean Peters was “breathtaking;” Lana Turner had a “body that men would go to war over;” Brigitte Bardot was the “hottest thing on two legs.”

Frothy and honest remembrances for gossipy movie fans.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42911-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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