An absorbing history of a vanished world.

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One woman's life reveals society and culture in 19th-century Japan.

Historian Stanley brings a deep knowledge of Japanese culture to a vibrant portrait of the Asian nation centered on the struggles of one defiant woman. Tsuneno was born into a respected family—her father was head priest in a temple of the True Pure Land sect—in a rural province, two weeks’ walk from the capital, Edo. As Tsuneno grew up, going to school and learning the skills—needlework, especially—that she would need when she married, she heard enticing talk about Edo, which beckoned as a place of “fashion and sophistication.” Though she dreamed of seeing it, her life took a different direction: When she was 12, she was married to a True Land priest in another province, even farther from the capital and far from her home. Although it was customary to wait until a girl was 14 before consummating the marriage, Tsuneno became integrated into her new family and, in time, her role as a wife. Fifteen years later, though, her husband filed for divorce, for reasons that Stanley can only guess at. The marriage was childless, and Tsuneno returned to her family. A year later, her family found her another husband, but that marriage lasted only four years; another match was made for the 34-year-old Tsuneno, but this one endured “four blurry, claustrophobic months.” After three failed marriages, Tsuneno decided to direct her own fate: She would finally leave home and travel, on foot, to Edo. Stanley creates a palpable sense of the Japanese capital: a teeming, highly stratified city where newcomers faced poverty and discrimination, migrants lived in hovels, and the only jobs available to Tsuneno—if she was lucky—were in service to a shogun or samurai. Despite hunger, cold, illness, and betrayal, she persisted, determined to achieve the independence she desperately desired.

An absorbing history of a vanished world.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8852-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.


An epistolary grab bag of memories, lyrics, jokes, and homespun philosophy from the legendary musician.

As an indefatigable touring artist, Nelson (b. 1933) has had a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. Following his collaboration with his sister, Me and Sister Bobbie, the road warrior offers a loose collection of lessons from a full life. If you’ve never read a book by or about Nelson, this one—characteristically conversational, inspirational, wise, funny, and meandering—is a good place to start. The book is filled with lyrics to many of his best-known songs, most of which he wrote but others that he has made his own as well. For those steeped in The Tao of Willie (2006), some of the stories will be as familiar as the songs—e.g., the origin story of his nicknames, including Booger Red and Shotgun Willie; his time as a DJ and a door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesman; early struggles in Nashville with “all the record executives who only see music as a bottom-line endeavor”; and return to his home state of Texas. Many of the personal stories about family and friends can be found in Me and Sister Bobbie, but they are good stories from a rich life, one of abundance for which Nelson remains profoundly grateful. So he gives thanks in the form of letters: to Texas, America, God, golf, and marijuana; the audiences who have supported him and the band that has had his back; those who have played any part in Farm Aid or his annual Fourth of July concert bashes; and departed friends and deceased heroes, one of whom, Will Rogers, answers him back. Nelson even addresses one to Covid-19, which looms over this book, making the author itchy and antsy. Even at 87, he can’t wait to be on the road again.

Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7852-4154-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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