Music lovers will be divided over whether they agree with Mottola and friends that those contributions were net positive,...

HITMAKER

THE MAN AND HIS MUSIC

The former head of Sony Music Entertainment pens an earthy, self-congratulatory memoir of his rise to the top of the music industry during its most lucrative era.

With an assist from co-author Fussman (After Jackie: Pride, Prejudice, and Baseball's Forgotten Heroes: An Oral History, 2007, etc.), Mottola affects a conversational style steeped in the flavors of his Bronx origins. “Arthur Avenue was one of my first tastemakers,” he writes. “It taught me what is good.” The mélange of sounds he heard in his childhood neighborhood—black doo-wop, Italian pop and Latin salsa, among others—would stay with him as he became a tastemaker for the world. Actually, Mottola came of age in Westchester, where he attended a prep school. He skipped college and, with his parents’ backing, attempted to launch a musical career as a Bobby Darrin–style crooner under the stage name T.D. Valentine. While he never scored a hit of his own, Mottola learned what went into making hits for other people. His star rose as a music manager when he gently steered his first clients Hall & Oates away from folk and progressive rock to their trademark blue-eyed Philly soul. Mottola was virtually unique among his corporate peers in having the experience of working as a musician and manager, and he used it to great advantage, carefully molding the careers of Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion and Shakira. Most notoriously, perhaps, he tightly controlled the output of ex-wife Mariah Carey; she wanted to break out into hip-hop and got pushed into making an album of Christmas music instead. “You’re trying to make me into a franchise,” she once told Mottola. “What do you think I am, McDonald’s?” The author concedes that he might have wronged Carey, but he is unapologetic about his role in turning the music business into a global multibillion-dollar corporate industry. Approving blurbs from colleagues between chapters back him up.

Music lovers will be divided over whether they agree with Mottola and friends that those contributions were net positive, but business students will find his insiders’ view valuable and his street smarts charming.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-446-58518-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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