An old-fashioned adventure story, for better or worse.

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DRAGON HUNTER

ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS AND THE CENTRAL ASIATIC EXPEDITIONS

A WASP hunts dinosaurs in the Gobi.

A generation or two ago young men used to read stories like this over and over again, which is both the strength and the weakness of archaeologist Gallenkamp’s (Maya, not reviewed) biography of the adventurous paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews. Throughout the 1920s Andrews led a series of expeditions into Mongolia under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Known as the Central Asiatic Expeditions, they never achieved their original goal of proving that Asia, rather than Africa, was the cradle of mankind, but they did make spectacular fossil finds, chart vast areas of the Gobi, and win extraordinary fame for Andrews, who fit the model of gentleman-adventurer to a tee. The author relates Andrews’s adventures entertainingly enough, although not with the elegance that Andrews himself displayed in his many books and articles. And while Andrews’s expeditions (sponsored in part by Standard Oil and Dodge) may not have the romance of Sven Heden’s or Sir Francis Younghusband’s, there are more than enough close scrapes and exotic locales to keep the pages turning. Still, in the end both Andrews’s life and Gallenkamp’s telling leave a sour taste in the mouth, for the Central Asiatic Expeditions had a eugenic rationale that is barely touched on here, and the condescending tone with which the polo playing, openly imperialistic Andrews treated the Chinese is odious. The author disclaims racism and imperialism, but he does nothing to distance himself from Andrews’s view that the Chinese were being silly in placing restrictions on what he did in (and removed from) Chinese territory; for the most part, in fact, his voice blends with Andrews’s on these points. Such unadulterated hero worship is not only unsettling, but bad scholarship as well.

An old-fashioned adventure story, for better or worse.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-89093-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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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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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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