Like Bennett's catalog of music—you may not fall in love with each individual story, but it's hard to argue with the way...

LIFE IS A GIFT

THE ZEN OF BENNETT

The legendary master of the American songbook shares stories and lessons learned from a life in music.

As Bennett (The Good Life: The Autobiography of Tony Bennett, 1998) notes, Frank Sinatra called him "my favorite singer" on more than one occasion. The effect of this endorsement on Bennett’s career was, of course, enormous. From a generation of singers still inclined to refer to his work as "showbiz," Bennett's career has had a peerless longevity and has likely provided him with wisdom and anecdotes for two or three books of this nature. The stories are wide-ranging, calling on his relationships with the best-known jazz singers and musicians from the 20th century—stories of collaborations, disagreements and adventures. His passion for art, travel and learning also take the stage. Each chapter showcases what Bennett sees as the necessities for a successful life—e.g., respecting others, hard work, ignoring "trends," and focusing on what you know and love. Bennett is also willing to call bologna by its name when he sees it, and he decries what he calls the "flattening out" of the music industry and of the tendency to prioritize all aspects of the business aside from the quality of the music. Some of the "Zen" suggestions at the close of each chapter fall flat—e.g., there's nothing particularly useful in stating that the world will be a better place if everyone can learn to get along and appreciate each others' differences. There is, however, a great deal of wisdom in the suggestions when they stem directly from Bennett's own richly lived life.

Like Bennett's catalog of music—you may not fall in love with each individual story, but it's hard to argue with the way it's being told.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-220706-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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