A raw and deeply engrossing salvation story.

TREJO

MY LIFE OF CRIME, REDEMPTION, AND HOLLYWOOD

An actor’s noteworthy journey from convict to Hollywood celebrity.

As one of the most easily recognizable cinematic bad guys, Trejo (b. 1944) has made a career of being mauled and maimed across dozens of films, from Desperado to Con Air to Grindhouse to Machete. As the author shows, his real life has been as tumultuous and eventful as any action story. Raised in a large Mexican American family oozing with “macho Chicanismo,” Trejo fell under the influence of Uncle Gilbert, who mentored him in life on the streets. Gilbert taught him how to rob, box, take drugs, and pass a prison sentence. Trejo was 12 when he first tried heroin, and his battle with addiction would land him in one correctional facility after another until he eventually found himself in some of California’s most infamous prisons. From the darkest depths of incarceration, Trejo made a commitment to sobriety and began living by a mantra of service, which showed him that “everything good that’s ever happened in my life has come as the direct result of helping someone else and not expecting anything in return.” Unwavering in his pledge to remain clean and help others do the same, Trejo continues to battle with lingering challenges involving his roles as a devoted husband and loving father. The author chronicles his battles with personal demons alongside his spectacular rise to stardom and impressive success in the entertainment industry and with a Trejo’s Tacos and Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts in LA. Throughout, the author expresses himself in an informal yet consistently thoughtful manner. In the collaborator’s note, co-author and fellow actor Logue writes, “Nearly everything he said was gold: wise, funny, pithy, at times, clairvoyant. I gained more insight on life in those first few days…with Danny than I had in my previous thirty-two years.”

A raw and deeply engrossing salvation story.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982150-82-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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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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