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NEWHOUSE

ALL THE GLITTER, POWER, AND GLORY OF AMERICA'S RICHEST MEDIA EMPIRE AND THE SECRETIVE MAN BEHIND IT

Partly a biography of ``the most influential media baron of our time,'' more a critique of that baron's stewardship of the public interest, an ambitious assemblage that falls short of a strong narrative or full indictment. Newsday reporter Maier never received access to his little- known subject—S.I. ``Si'' Newhouse Jr., ruler of a chain of newspapers, of CondÇ Nast Publications (publisher of Vogue and Vanity Fair, among other magazines), and of the Random House book publishing empire—so his portrait is understandably sketchy. After tracing Newhouse's youthful unhappiness and professional meanderings, the author gets sidetracked with more interesting characters, such as Si's ``surrogate father,'' Alexander Liberman, longtime editorial director of CondÇ Nast. There, Newhouse blurred ``the distinction between editorial and advertising,'' Maier writes, sins later magnified at the reborn Vanity Fair and the newly acquired New Yorker. The narrative then turns to Si's friendship with the notorious Roy Cohn, who set in motion what seems to be Newhouse's most glaring ethical lapse: the Newhouse- owned Cleveland Plain Dealer succumbed to Mafia pressure to retract an investigative story on Teamster boss Jackie Presser. (Like most controversies in the book, this has been reported on in depth before.) Maier moves on to the complex tax maneuvering that saved oodles for Newhouse's Advance Publications, allowing him to acquire Random House in 1980. The author recounts how Newhouse's bottom- line mentality led to the controversial firings of veteran editors and sullied the company's reputation. Profiling editor Tina Brown (who agreed to interviews), he reveals that Si had planned to pull the plug on Brown's Vanity Fair until the famous Reagan cover turned the magazine's fortunes around. Si often drops out of the narrative when it veers into lengthy but not probing reports on the personalities and internal politics of Newhouse's empire, but Maier makes the worthy point that pundits have rarely examined the way ``the nation's largest private media company'' affects journalism and culture. In the public interest, surely. But will the public, outside the media world, be interested in this mediocre effort? (16 pages of photos, not seen) (First printing of 60,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-11481-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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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