A cogent and meaningful call for citizens to share the benefits and burdens of a unified society—hopefully an argument that...




A legendary journalist offers a plea for national civility and unity rooted in the ethos of the New Deal.

Peters (Lyndon B. Johnson, 2010, etc.) wields his longtime experience as founder and former editor-in-chief of the Washington Monthly to offer a thoughtful, well-reasoned argument for American citizens to pull back from political brinksmanship and embrace the values of the Roosevelt era. His first admission and caveat is as honest as it gets: “Now that I am eight-nine, I am painfully aware that there are many younger people who will doubt that I have anything useful to say.” They should listen, as Peters offers a heartfelt remembrance of a time when “the spirit of generosity was accompanied by a sense of neighborliness,” and “those who had little helped those who had even less.” Far from being a nostalgic pipe dream, Peters also examines the baby boomers’ drift toward materialism, the advent of political lobbying and its effect on how government works, and the divisive cultural issues that have triggered a fundamental schism in this nation. The book is also extraordinarily fair in its treatment of this philosophical chasm. While one chapter is devoted to the rise of the right, from Ronald Reagan to Roger Ailes, another examines the left’s cultural elitism and how “The Snob Factor” left much of the country behind. And it’s always worth listening to a guy who managed John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign in West Virginia and was introduced to marijuana by Allen Ginsberg; this man has stories. Most importantly, Peters is asking hard questions that neither side seems to want to answer. “People on the other side can have views we regard as deplorable without being deplorable themselves,” he writes. “If we don’t understand their side, how are we going to persuade them to see our side?”

A cogent and meaningful call for citizens to share the benefits and burdens of a unified society—hopefully an argument that isn’t already past its sell-by date.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9352-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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