Memorable reading for die-hard devotees and those seeking to relive all the breathless histrionics.



A Hollywood screenwriter’s ultimate in-depth guidebook to an enduring book and female-driven film sensation.

Rebello delivers a meticulously detailed paean to both incarnations of Valley of the Dolls, which, despite scathing reviews, were runaway commercial successes. As he writes, the book was a “magnificent obsession” since he first read it as a “precocious kid and an insatiable reader.” He explores author Jacqueline Susann’s early “full-on assault at stardom” in New York in the 1930s as she pursued an acting career, and he traces the dedicated, rigid schedule she adhered to while writing Dolls. When the novel finally published in 1966, it garnered mixed reviews, but it caused a promotional commotion and became a publishing juggernaut. Susann’s later opulent life as a “master of self-promotion and pioneer of branding” was embodied in her active participation in the outlandish film treatment a year later. The complete backstory of the film decorates the second half of the text, as Rebello enthusiastically stuffs each chapter with widely unknown scandalous tattle. The author’s dutiful scrutiny shines in the series of lists pointing out all the differences between the various screenwriters’ treatments and the final production. This scrupulous quality makes the book a blissful treasure trove of gossipy insider details that Dolls fans will swiftly devour. In grand fashion, the author delivers frothy particulars on the agonizing casting process to “find the right Neely” (under consideration, among many others, were “Petula Clark, Helen Mirren, Liza Minnelli, and Andy Warhol ‘superstar’ Baby Jane Holzer”), the film designer’s perfectionist “wardrobe plot,” and, of course, the competitive infighting among the four leading ladies: Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate, and Susan Hayward (who replaced the unceremoniously fired Judy Garland). Written with a cinematic excitement and giddiness bordering on satire, this is an indulgent treat for Dolls fans.

Memorable reading for die-hard devotees and those seeking to relive all the breathless histrionics.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-14-313350-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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 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?

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?