A wealth of information, frustratingly jumbled.




Mishmash of American history, ecological survey, and travel guide surveys the state of Lewis and Clark’s route as it exists today.

Naturalist Botkin traveled this road previously in Our Natural History (1995), which traced Lewis and Clark’s journey along the Missouri River. Here, he follows their trail with an eye to the changes that have occurred in the 200 years since the explorers blazed their way west. He makes some direct comparisons when focusing on the unique features of the environment that the two men catalogued—the Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis, the Loess Hills outside of Omaha, the lost midwestern prairies, the shape of the Missouri river, the Great Falls in Montana—but Botkin will not be constrained by his own literary device. His text roams far and wide, covering the geological forces that formed the landscape, the native flora and fauna and how it fares today, the climatic changes that are characteristic of different areas. The author extensively contemplates the behavior of rivers over time, considering various dams, power schemes, fishing efforts, bird habitats, conservation efforts, and floods. He compares historical attitudes toward wildlife with contemporary ones and (although it is not the main thrust of the work) puts forth his own philosophy of coexistence with the wild, a strategy that’s equal parts conservation and intelligent development. Botkin also gives practical advice on how to see the sites he discusses: “State Route 50 crosses the Platte River at Louisville, Nebraska (reached from Lincoln by car via Interstate 80 to State Route 370).” All in all, there’s unfortunately little of Lewis and Clark, since they provide the emotional thrust to the subject. Botkin may feel passionately about the land he discusses, but there’s scant evidence of it in his choppy, flat, and oddly repetitive prose.

A wealth of information, frustratingly jumbled.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-19-516243-9

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet