A knowledgeable, earnest, always persuasive testament to a cultural touchstone.

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THIS ISN'T HAPPENING

RADIOHEAD'S KID A AND THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY

A study of Radiohead’s 2000 classic album and how two decades have validated its dystopian vision.

Uproxx cultural critic Hyden, author of Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me, among other music books, believes that Kid A, the British band’s fourth album, is a masterpiece. For music fans today, that’s an unprovocative, almost banal assertion. But as he notes in detail, the album received mostly middling and hostile reviews at the time, with the notable exception of Pitchfork, a then-little-known tastemaker that awarded the album its highest grade of 10.0. Like all innovative works of art, Kid A baffled many at first. Radiohead’s blend of proggy structures and glitchy electronics was new; the obsessive internet music culture that leaked the album early was new; singer Thom Yorke’s cynicism about our tech-sodden existence was new. And all of it was “weirdly prescient,” a “tone poem about our ‘doomed-to-be-extremely-online’ lives,” as Hyden puts it. His book is partly standard-issue band history, covering Radiohead’s path from “Creep,” the early megahit that threatened to make them one-hit wonders, to their present-day efforts to maintain their perch as innovators. But Hyden also argues that the album captured the zeitgeist both then and now. The author finds a Kid A sensibility in contemporary movies like Vanilla Sky and Fight Club as well as in the twitchy discomfort delivered by our social media addictions. Today, Radiohead’s push-me-pull-you relationship with the traditional record industry is the norm. Though Hyden extrapolates too much cultural import from one album—Kid A wasn’t alone in railing against “soul-destroying remnants of omnipresent corporate culture,” after all—he is an intelligent and often amusing guide to its creation. The original reporting is slim, but the author writes like the best kind of music fan: informed and inviting. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A knowledgeable, earnest, always persuasive testament to a cultural touchstone.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-306-84568-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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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