An insightful memoir on one man’s quest to know living birds by examining those birds that have ceased to exist.

FLOCK TOGETHER

A LOVE AFFAIR WITH EXTINCT BIRDS

A new birder discovers a fascination with extinct birds.

Hollars’ (English/Univ. of Wisconsin, Eau Claire; This Is Only a Test, 2016, etc.) fascination with birds, living and dead, began with the possible rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought extinct, in the swamps of Arkansas. Similar in size and coloring to the pileated woodpecker, the ivory-billed woodpecker was hunted for its feathers and meat to the point of annihilation. Through books and interviews with ornithologists, Hollars tracks the saga and demise of this particular woodpecker, which leads him deeper into the extinct-bird arena. He muses on passenger pigeons, once numbering in the billions, a lone pair of goshawks discovered in 1935 and the hermit who lived in the Wisconsin wilderness and tried to protect them, and the dusky seaside sparrow, which was wiped out in part due to the building of the Kennedy Space Center. He examines the early methods humans used to study birds—shoot, stuff, draw, and/or paint likenesses—that eventually caused the birds’ demise and juxtaposes those with the joy birders feel when they add a bird to a life list. Hollars also shares the awe he felt when he finally saw and held the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker (even if it was a stuffed specimen in a dusty museum drawer). Although the text is a bit dry, birders and naturalists will enjoy the author’s descriptions of birds and their environments; his writing clearly displays his enthusiasm for the subject, and he balances it nicely with historical research embedded throughout each chapter. The author’s examination of extinct birds can only raise awareness and concern for the species that are still on this planet.

An insightful memoir on one man’s quest to know living birds by examining those birds that have ceased to exist.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8032-9642-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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