DOWNCANYON

A NATURALIST EXPLORES THE COLORADO RIVER THROUGH GRAND CANYON

In a book dense with scientific and historical observations, in which seemingly nothing about the region's flora, fauna, and geology has escaped her notice, Zwinger fashions a joltingly beautiful study of the canyon and its river. The pleasures in reading this book are manifold. Zwinger's (The Mysterious Land, 1989, etc.) quietly heroic accounts of rafting the canyon's 60 rapids are thrilling by themselves, but one also reads of her 19th and early 20th century predecessors' adventuressome fatalon this same water and the types of craft used to navigate the river. Zwinger discusses the pottery, tools, and settlement patterns of the earliest human inhabitants as she floats by or hikes to the many Anasazi sites within the canyon walls. She endures sweltering and bone-chilling days and nights, taking part in eagle counting or tracking of the hump-back chub, now threatened by the changes wrought by the Glen Canyon Dam upstream. Perhaps her most beautiful writing can be found in the minutely detailed descriptions of the insect and reptile life she closely observes, although as occurs around the bends of the river, surprises turn up everywhere in these pages. Zwinger paints vibrant prose pictures of the multicolored canyon walls, expressing a sincere sense of awe at the ancient geologic processes that created and laid down the limestone, sandstone, and basalt flows through which the river cut to reach its present level. On being asked by a tourist, after she hikes up to the canyon rim, whether there is anything ``down there'' to see, Zwinger reflects that `` `down there' encompasses contrasts between minute midge and pounding waterfall, between eternity in an ebony schist and the moment in the pulsing vein in a dragonfly's wing, a delicate shard lost in an immensity of landscape.'' This extraordinary book places Zwinger squarely among the best of today's nature writers.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8165-1163-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Univ. of Arizona

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1995

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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