Interesting but self-congratulatory reading.

LIFE IN MOTION

AN UNLIKELY BALLERINA

A celebrated African-American ballet dancer’s account of her unlikely rise to stardom.

Home was a relative term for Copeland. Her mother left her father when she was 2 and took the family from Kansas City to Southern California. There, they moved in with a man who was an alcoholic. Several years later, the author’s mother took her children and moved in with another man who ruled the family home with a stern, and sometimes brutal, hand. In this new environment, Copeland, who loved to perform, discovered that she could also “instantly do moves that it might take others months to achieve.” She began to teach herself gymnastics and, in middle school, became the drill team captain. Encouraged to take ballet classes at the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, Copeland learned basic ballet movement with astonishing rapidity. “I began hearing a word over and over again…that would follow me, define me,” she writes. “Prodigy.” But as her dancing flourished, her home life began to crumble. Soon, she, her mother and siblings had moved into a crowded motel room. A ballet teacher brought Copeland to live with her and prepare “for the career that was looming for [her].” Under pressure from her increasingly outraged mother, the courts forced the woman to return the girl to her home. By then, Copeland’s talent had brought her media attention and offers to attend schools sponsored by prestigious dance companies. One, the American Ballet Theatre, eventually became her permanent home. As Copeland learned, however, her dream to dance ballet and become a soloist for the ABT came at a high price, both physically and emotionally. Copeland’s depiction of the drive that pushed her to succeed in a white-dominated art form is inspiring, but she often overplays her narrative hand to the point where self-assurance comes across as smugness or arrogance.

Interesting but self-congratulatory reading.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3798-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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