Less-than-satisfying biography of a well-beloved jazz singer, despite some interesting musical analysis. Nicholson (Ella Fitzgerald, 1994) has uncovered birth certificates, court documents, and newspaper advertisements to correct long-standing mix-ups in Holiday's life story. His sober approach is some relief after the overheated prose of many Holiday bios (most notably, Donald Clarke's 1994 tome), but surprisingly, Nicholson drops the ball so often that those who do not already know Holiday's life story will be lost. Holiday was born out of wedlock, neglected by her mother, and raped by a neighborhood boy at the age of 11. By her late teens, she was in New York City, where she quickly established herself as a singing star, ``discovered'' by the famous jazz producer John Hammond, who arranged for her first recording sessions. An engagement at New York's hip Cafe Society club in the late '30s established her among a broader audience; there she performed ``Strange Fruit,'' a song that bravely addressed racial hatred. By the '40s, Holiday was recording in a more pop-oriented vein, often accompanied by lush strings. Her career began to unravel with her deepening dependency on abusive men and her addiction to heroin. By the early '50s, her voice was becoming unreliable, and her health began to fail; she died in 1959. Nicholson deals only peripherally with the personal life of Holiday, often only briefly mentioning key figures. As in his book on Fitzgerald, he tends to focus on long lists of performance and recording dates, losing sight of the figure behind the facts. His discussion of the musical side of Holiday's achievement is the book's most valuable contribution, offering interesting insights into how pop singers mold their image before an adoring public. This Lady is still waiting for her Day in the biographical sun. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 1995

ISBN: 1-55553-248-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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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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