A brutally sublime tale of derring-do that transports as well as teaches.

THE IMPOSSIBLE FIRST

FROM FIRE TO ICE--CROSSING ANTARCTICA ALONE

The tale of a solo trip across Antarctica, on skis and pulling a sled of supplies.

It had never been done before: to make a crossing of Antarctica alone, unsupported and unassisted, via the South Pole, a 930-mile trek in temperatures substantially below zero and wind chills doubling the cold. Undaunted, O’Brady, who experiences a “ferocious, uncontainable optimism that boils over inside me at the beginning of almost any new challenge or adventure,” has set a number of speed records in such events as climbing the tallest peaks on all seven of the continents and climbing to the highest ground in each of the 50 states. He is also a triathlete of note, so there was little doubt about his physical preparedness to take on the Antarctic adventure. When he writes about the “inspirational path of the polar pioneers before me, and what they’d taught the world about endurance, strength, and perseverance,” you know he is on solid ground. However, this adventure would take more than two months in a formidable, monotonous landscape. As we see, the mental challenges in dealing with such an environment occupied much of his time. O’Brady is a confident, crafty storyteller, and he has plenty of captivating stories to tell about his exploits and his family life, which he intertwines with his voyage. Many of his tales have an underlying theme of audacity accomplished through “grit, purpose, and a growth mindset.” He also has a charming partner in his wife, Jenna, and it is a pleasure to see them working together to get through the rough spots, whether winning over a new sponsor or talking the author through especially difficult moments. She helps to humanize O’Brady, so he is not simply a robotic master of control and discipline. This inner saga works hand in hand with the physical challenges to make for a full tapestry of remarkable experience.

A brutally sublime tale of derring-do that transports as well as teaches.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3311-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more