A welcome addition to the Gonzo library and one of the best starting points for HST novices—at least until Douglas Brinkley...

OUTLAW JOURNALIST

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON

McKeen (Journalism/Univ. of Florida; Highway 61: A Father-and-Son Journey Through the Middle of America, 2003) resurrects the Good Doctor with a solid treatment of his life and work.

Since Thompson’s suicide more than three years ago, there have been countless memorials and appraisals of his career, including longtime artistic collaborator Ralph Steadman’s meandering The Joke’s Over (2006). McKeen stays on task, maintaining a well-paced narrative as he works his way through Thompson’s life, the details of which are by now quite well-known: athletics-filled but troublemaking childhood in Louisville (“I look back on my youth with great fondness,” the author once wrote, “but I would not recommend it as a working model for others”); brief stint in the Air Force; frequent rejections of his first two novels, Prince Jellyfish and The Rum Diary (which was eventually published in 1998); long, up-and-down relationship with the editors at Playboy and Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone; redemptive success with Hell’s Angels (1966) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972); increasingly erratic behavior, embodied by his alter-ego, Raoul Duke, and spurred on by his relationship with Mexican-American activist and attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta; seclusion on his ranch in Woody Creek, Colo.; calculated suicide in 2005. Thompson’s unrivaled substance abuse and explosive personality were the stuff of legend, but McKeen, employing readable, lively prose, does a fine job excavating other aspects of his character, digging deeper than most of his previous biographers to reveal a vital component of Thompson’s genius: “Part of Hunter’s art was collecting the right people, putting them all together, and seeing what happened.” Carefully avoiding hagiography, however, the author gamely explores the darker side of Thompson’s nature as well. Throughout, Thompson’s slavish devotion to his search for the American Dream provides the narrative’s binding thread: “The Dream obsessed him…but what was it? Was it Horatio Alger, rags to riches, the idea that you could start with nothing and end up rolling naked in stacks of hundreds? Or was it a dream of freedom? Personal freedom…or the concept of freedom that the founders brought into the world?”

A welcome addition to the Gonzo library and one of the best starting points for HST novices—at least until Douglas Brinkley decides to publish his eagerly awaited version of events.

Pub Date: July 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-393-06192-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more