A fine tour d’horizon of our national grandeur.



A chronicle of the author’s year exploring all 59 national parks located in the United States and its territories.

Nursing a recent breakup with his fiancee, Emmy-winning CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Knighton hit upon an adventurous plan to take his mind off his troubles. He decided to visit every one of the country’s national parks, occasionally producing segments for CBS. Noting that the National Park Service manages more than 400 “units,” the author “decided to focus on the ‘official’ national parks. I knew I’d be excluding some amazing places, but it seemed like a more manageable list.” Knighton is a companionable guide, light on his feet, with a steady store of hit-or-miss jokes—during a visit with ancient trees in California’s White Mountains, he remarks, “Age on the inside isn’t always apparent on the outside. Just ask Keanu Reeves”—some excellent descriptive passages, good background material, and a few sweeping insights as to why national parks are so essential. The author groups a few parks together for each chapter according to a defining feature, which may be literal—trees, water, ice, volcanoes, caves, mountains—or something more abstract, such as God, forgiveness, love, or disconnection. Too infrequently, he tackles wider subjects with particular zest, especially so in the case of the lack of diversity in both visitors to and employees of the national parks. Knighton examines climate change through the disintegration of glaciers and then ponders the immensity of time through the cutting of a deep canyon. Every park presents him with some unique feature for him to celebrate: a synchronous display of firefly blinking, the knees of cypress trees, the uncanny blueness of Crater Lake. Then there is the elemental brilliance of the national park system. “Each one,” writes the author “is an example of how we have fought against our selfish, destructive impulses.”

A fine tour d’horizon of our national grandeur.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2354-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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 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...


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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