Winning blend of headbanging trivia and adolescent fantasia.



Amusing, sweetly ramshackle compendium of a British lad’s heavy-metal memories.

Londoner Hunter’s debut traipses through the cultural funhouse of the 1980s, an era when sleazy, parent-offending metal achieved mainstream prominence. He recalls the enthusiasm first ignited by AC/DC’s “Let’s Get it Up,” when he was ten: “The world suddenly became three dimensional and my ears popped open.” The accessible lasciviousness of AC/DC and KISS provided Hunter with a valuable template, offering this clueless, nerdy adolescent a darker world of rebellion and sexuality. His dreary education became subordinate to his telescoping obsessions with bands like Judas Priest and Manowar, and after learning three guitar chords, he formed his first metal band, the comically inept Armageddon’s Ring. Hunter writes in a digressive style that allows him to track metal’s development from the decayed dreams of the late ’60s, which produced angry powerhouses like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, to the time of his immersion in the genre, when the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” was ascendant and iconoclastic, imaginative bands like Iron Maiden transcended cult status to become a commercial force. Hunter examines metal’s secret language, encoded in strangely shaped guitars, overwrought soloing, and obscure tour T-shirts, a knowledge key to young fans’ snobbish allegiances. He alternates these passages (and tangential narratives regarding the international thrash/death-metal underground) with the tale of his stumbling musical ambitions. Hunter dropped out of school at 16 and grew his hair obsessively while laboring in bands like eXposed, Noise Royale, and Rag’n’Bones, whose misadventures ricochet off the big time but do make for droll reading. Although the narrative covers territory familiar from previous metal memoirs like Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City (2001), Hunter’s may be the funniest yet: his self-deprecating British humor highlights the absurdities inherent in the self-serious gloss of metal’s performers and fans capable of remarking with a straight face about Metallica, “What a silly name. . . . They won’t last long.”

Winning blend of headbanging trivia and adolescent fantasia.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-072292-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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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 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...


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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