A simple, warmhearted celebration of small-town living.

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IF YOU LIVED HERE YOU’D BE HOME BY NOW

WHY WE TRADED THE COMMUTING LIFE FOR A LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE

A Washington Post data reporter debuts with an account of his move from the D.C. area to a rural county in northwestern Minnesota.

In 2015, Ingraham published a dismissive comment about Red Lake County, Minnesota, and the immediate social media reactions from some people there prompted him to visit. When he got there, he realized that he was falling for the place. He convinced his wife that they should move there for a while. It was a great place, he thought, to bring up their twin sons, still of preschool age—not to mention quite a bit less expensive than D.C. So they packed up and moved, where they were, again, surprised to discover how comfortable they felt—even though Red Lake “is a place so lacking in superlatives that proclaiming itself ‘the only landlocked county…that is surrounded by just two neighboring counties’ is the closest thing to a boast that you’ll find on the county’s website.” Seldom is heard a discouraging word in Ingraham’s text; the only time he really complains, which he does in a light, even ironic way, is about the local food, especially the pizza (barely edible). The family quickly adapted to the entirely new small-town culture and found everyone welcoming and even sort of Mayberry-ish. Ingraham deals with a number of fundamental issues: health care (things were farther away than in the densely populated East), schools (he had a great experience with the local school dealing with one of his sons), social life (his wife won a seat on the town council; he went deer hunting), and, of course, the extreme cold of northern Minnesota. The author devotes a small section to politics, registering his belief that mass-media portrayals of small-town rural America are not sufficiently nuanced. Throughout, Ingraham writes with the conviction of one who has found—as least for him—tranquility and truth.

A simple, warmhearted celebration of small-town living.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286147-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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