A latter-day Silkwood, quiet and understated, beautifully written, speaking volumes about the priorities of the age.

THE LEGEND OF COLTON H. BRYANT

A lyrical paean to an unsung…well, not exactly hero, but one of life’s unsung people.

If this book were a country song, it would be by Merle Haggard. Whether British-born Fuller (Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier, 2004, etc.) knows from Haggard is a matter of speculation, but what is clear is that she has an unfailing eye for common people caught up in uncommon events. This story of a young Wyomingite named Colton H. Bryant is also that of the oil and gas boom wrought by deregulation in these rapacious years of Bush, “a tragedy before it even starts because there was never a way for anyone to win against all the odds out here.” Alternately bullied and ignored—“Retard” is a slur-cum-nickname that figures often in these pages—Colton did most of the things a young man in the heavily Mormon southwestern corner of the state is supposed to do: ride and rope, fish and hunt, cruise around in pickup trucks. Moreover, like young men in Evanston, Colton “was born with horses and oil in his blood like his father before him and his grandfather before that and maybe his grandfather’s father before that.” Having endured adolescence thanks to a good friend named Jake and a slightly misquoted creed borrowed from television (“Mind over matter”), Colton followed the second birthright to the oil patch, where he quickly found work as a roughneck, an unforgiving job. “They have to keep drilling hour after hour—storm, heat, sleet, ice, sun—no matter what,” writes Fuller. “They’ll slap another beating heart on the rig to take your place if you’re so much as five minutes late.” Diligent and aware of the dangers, but needing to support a wife and baby, he fell into the well, as so many others have, just one of 35 Wyomingites to die on the rigs between 2000 and 2006. The petroleum company, in the meanwhile, boasted record profits—while Colton’s family “received no compensation for his loss.”

A latter-day Silkwood, quiet and understated, beautifully written, speaking volumes about the priorities of the age.

Pub Date: May 6, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59420-183-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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