Engaging life of brilliant lyricist, songwriter, and composer Frank Loesser (1910-69), whose genius with words brings life to this loving biography by his daughter (a journalist, editor, geologist, etc., who's been published in Life and Family Circle). Much of the charm here lies in Frank Loesser's never failing ingenuity as Susan Loesser quotes his lyrics, letters, and notes for stage productions. The composer spent his life in the emotional shadow of his older brother Arthur, a gifted classical pianist and teacher, and of their mother, Julia, for whom young Frank's Pulitzer-winning Broadway endeavors lacked intellectual refinement. Loesser could never satisfy either family member, even when his most ambitious work, The Most Happy Fella, was praised for its immense variety of musical forms and operatic scope. Loesser, though an apparent egomaniac, thought himself a comparative failure and would put himself down as just an entertainer writing for the moment, future glory not required. Meanwhile, the composer's first wife, Mary, Susan's mother, who was ``pathologically meticulous,'' survived her divorce from Frank by resorting to alcohol and working as a tough-talking Broadway producer. Loesser was a famous Hollywood lyricist before making the big leap to Broadway with Where's Charley?, writing both music and lyrics, then with the quintessential New York musical, Guys and Dolls, his greatest hit. Throughout, the author quotes passages cut out of her father's shows, including from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The composer died of cancer at 59—when, we learn, he was already being swamped from all sides by detested rock music that was making him old hat. Though foulmouthed, Loesser grows on you wonderfully through his daughter's eyes.

Pub Date: June 30, 1993

ISBN: 1-55611-364-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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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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