What lay beneath the compulsions? Leigh never gets beyond the surface of Kelly’s need to please a distant, philandering...

TRUE GRACE

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN AMERICAN PRINCESS

Gossipy biography of Her Serene Highness.

Setting to work on a biography of Grace Kelly, Leigh (The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy, 2003, etc.) was advised by her editor, “I don’t want anything warmed over.” By that criterion, her results are decidedly mixed. In broad outline, Leigh’s version offers little that departs from the themes of nine other Kelly biographies and several books that consider her in passing. Here again we see Kelly obsessed with becoming a star. “She was,” a friend recalls, “like a Patton tank on her way to somewhere.” Kelly threatened to break a long-term contract at MGM if the studio refused to loan her to Paramount to play a plum role in The Country Girl. Metro relented and Kelly copped an Oscar for her performance. Leigh also follows other biographers to the bedrooms where Kelly walked in, stripped naked, then pursued an affair, often with a considerably older co-star (Gary Cooper, William Holden, Frank Sinatra, et al.). Kelly’s storybook marriage to Prince Rainier had scant effect on her promiscuity. The union, which sprang from a public-relations move to polish Monaco’s faded image, soon left Princess Grace lonely; she diverted herself, as her husband did, with affairs. Leigh does bring a fresh perspective to Kelly’s acting, especially in a favorable critique of Kelly’s underrated work in High Noon. To a narrative highlighting sleeping arrangements, Leigh adds to what has already been reported about Kelly’s prodigious sex life the news that she slept with Tony Curtis. The author also devotes an entire chapter to the question of whether Kelly’s affair with David Niven was short- or long-term.

What lay beneath the compulsions? Leigh never gets beyond the surface of Kelly’s need to please a distant, philandering father.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-34236-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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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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