A meticulously researched history of maritime tragedy.



Biography/history of a 16th-century Dutchman who sailed courageously to the North Pole.

Pitzer, a journalist who last wrote a global history of concentration camps, draws on diaries, archival material, and her own three trips to the Arctic to recount, in exhaustive detail, three arduous journeys carried out by navigator William Barents in search of a northern route to the Far East. Barents was in his mid-40s, with a wife and five children, when, in 1594, he joined an exploratory fleet whose mission was part of the Dutch Republic’s effort to “transform their country into a world power.” The first expedition was successful: After traveling more than 3,000 miles, the fleet identified two possible routes to China, and every sailor returned home safely. The second expedition, though, had worse luck. The seven ships that sailed in 1595 constantly feared being trapped by ice; weathered violent storms; and battled polar bears, which attacked and ate two sailors. Morale plummeted, and the ringleaders of a mutiny were hanged. Barents’ third expedition, which set out in 1596, proved disastrous. “They’d sailed once more into merciless terrain without even basic strategies to survive in it,” Pitzer writes, and they became locked in ice, forcing them to overwinter in the Arctic. The author chronicles the crew’s daily experiences, hauling lumber for miles, dismantling their ship for planks, building a shelter, hunting for meat, and surviving temperatures that dropped to 30 degrees below zero. They were weakened and ill from scurvy and once poisoned themselves from eating bear liver. By the time they freed two small boats from the ice and sailed for home, several had died. Though Barents succumbed during the return and had found no northern route to China, he became legendary, leaving a legacy of determination and becoming “the patron saint of devoted error.” Although sometimes overwhelmed by repetitive detail, Pitzer’s narrative vividly conveys tension and terror.

A meticulously researched history of maritime tragedy.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982113-34-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.



The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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