Travel dispatches that offer a rare perspective on a world few see so intimately.

SONGS OF THE BAKA AND OTHER DISCOVERIES

TRAVELS AFTER SIXTY-FIVE

Intrepid travelers offer a colorful report on far-flung destinations.

Retired lawyers James and Grossman share an insatiable desire to travel, especially to isolated, sometimes-dangerous places where most tourists fear to go. Drawing on James’ journals, Grossman’s photographs, and their memories, they recount 10 memorable trips to remote sites in countries such as Mali, Ethiopia, Iran, and Algeria. The tone is calmly matter-of-fact even when the author is describing harrowing events: a mother rhino ready to charge in Nepal; a siege of tiny, vicious black ants in Cameroon; stingrays off the coast of Venezuela, where the minuscule puri puri burrowed through mosquito netting and left enough bite marks on James’ leg “to form a dragon tattoo.” Trekking in Nepal, Grossman fell and dislocated her elbow, requiring a helicopter flight to a hospital in Kathmandu where the elbow was painfully reset. But the incident hardly fazed them, and they soon finished their Nepal trip at Chitwan National Park. In Venezuela, James twice became so dehydrated that he needed a saline drip. Rudimentary habitations, mostly lacking plumbing, were part of the adventure. For the most part, they were welcomed warmly in the indigenous communities they visited, sometimes with celebratory rituals. Among the Baka, in Cameroon, after two hours of dances, songs, and games, the villagers sang the couple a song wishing them pleasant dreams. Even in Iran, where they visited in 2008, they were greeted with smiles. The travelers are deeply respectful of the people and cultures they encountered and applaud resistance to Westernization. The “generous, hardworking, and proud” inhabitants of Papua New Guinea, for example, “did not appear to aspire to the economic and social status of former colonists” and to change lives “that are stable, relatively healthy, and aesthetically satisfying.” Still, the authors are forthright about the political problems they observed. They came away from a visit to Gaza in 2009, part of an anti-war delegation, feeling strong support for Palestinian self-determination.

Travel dispatches that offer a rare perspective on a world few see so intimately.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1350-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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 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

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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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