A touching tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. balancing larger-than-life stories with poignant personal moments.

IT WAS ALL A DREAM

BIGGIE AND THE WORLD THAT MADE HIM

A chronicle of the life and work of the legendary rapper.

For hip-hop fans of a certain age, Christopher Wallace (1972-1997), aka the Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie, was not just a rapper; he was a folk hero. Tinsley, a senior writer for Andscape, focuses more on storytelling than trying to unearth new facts or theories about Biggie’s still-unsolved murder. (The author mostly subscribes to the findings of Greg Kading, a detective with the LAPD special investigation unit, who believes that the shooter was an associate of Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight, hired to avenge the death of Tupac Shakur the previous year.) Tinsley’s sleek, effective biography introduces major figures in Wallace’s life, complete with interesting backstories, before we meet the influential rapper, giving readers a solid grounding in the pertinent context. “Biggie and Tupac’s friendship was as genuine as any in rap,” writes the author. “Born less than a year apart, they had completely different personalities. ’Pac was the more vocal, not just in rap, but in everything he did, and Big respected the fact that ’Pac came from a lineage that tied him directly to the streets and the struggle painted in his music. He’d speak about injustices toward Black women in the same vein he’d talk about shootouts in public with rivals and the same way he’d hold America accountable for systemic injustices toward his people.” Tinsley mostly blames their falling out on Tupac, but he does hold Biggie accountable for his missteps in other relationships—especially regarding his wife, Faith Evans, and his extramarital affairs with Lil’ Kim and Charli Baltimore. He also goes much deeper into how Biggie was a loyal friend to his pals from his Brooklyn neighborhood than he does in explaining why he was a great musical artist.

A touching tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. balancing larger-than-life stories with poignant personal moments.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5031-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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