Solid business writing that will interest budding moguls.

A-LIST ANGELS

HOW A BAND OF ACTORS, ARTISTS, AND ATHLETES HACKED SILICON VALLEY

The Forbes senior editor of media and entertainment takes a look at modern show business–based entrepreneurship.

Hollywood has always had its business-minded celebrities: Think of Fess Parker, who bought up vast swaths of Southern California real estate, or Roy Rogers, who built a restaurant chain in his name. The new breed, writes Greenburg, is likelier to invest in intangibles and speculative tech-based ventures. One to whom he pays particular attention is Ashton Kutcher, who built a considerable fortune playing film characters such as, fittingly enough, Steve Jobs and starring in one of the most popular series on TV, earning him the highest salary in the business. With a partner, Kutcher founded an investment fund worth $30 million in 2010 that soon grew to more than $250 million. The author credits him with doing his own homework and following an investment philosophy: “look for companies solving a real problem…and consider unglamorous sectors.” It’s a philosophy that other celebrities, from Shaquille O’Neal to Jennifer Lopez and a small army of hip-hop stars, have taken to following. Examples include investment in a Los Angeles–based “company that makes companies,” software that rounds up purchases and invests the change in index funds, and a “Fitbit for cows” that tracks a bovine critter’s reproductive health and other issues. Having celebrity spokespeople and investors helps, but the companies Greenburg profiles are absolutely on track in solving real problems, even if they are sometimes real problems that most of us don’t have—e.g., how to snag a seat on a charter jet in the same way an earthbound traveler summons a rideshare driver. Though at heart his book is an extended magazine article, there’s plenty of interest here, especially when the author looks at inventive philanthropy such as Matt Damon’s Water.org, which brings plumbing to poor communities but also works “to create venture funds that generate low single-digit returns by giving cheap microloans.”

Solid business writing that will interest budding moguls.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-48508-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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