Walstad brings a keen eye for social history to her family chronicle.

Family History (1860-1950) of a Doctor's Daughter

A history that chronicles the challenges of a group of immigrants who traveled from northern Europe to the New World.

Walstad’s (Ecology of the Planted Aquarium, 1999) ancestors were part of a wave of immigration to America in the mid-19th-century. Their new lives were still full of challenges—the author’s relations from Sweden, for example, spent their first winter, “a bitterly cold one, huddled together in a drafty shack” in Minnesota—but they persevered, and most of them eventually achieved a slice of the American dream. In this book, Walstad uses a remarkable array of sources, including diaries, interviews, and family photos, to vividly portray her people, piecing together not only a family chronicle but also a timely social history of the immigration experiment. It initially travels through the Old World countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands, where the author says that a “declining national economy, hard labor, and 10 children” may have sent her great-great-grandparents “to early graves.” He tells of how one Danish relative, a 28-year-old spinster, “must have hoped that emigrating would increase her marital prospects, for three of her sisters had found husbands in America.” After the author’s great-grandfather John Walstad, an alcoholic who had deserted his wife and children, died of a heart attack in Iowa, his eulogy stated only: “Thus ended a life ruined by whiskey.” Perhaps most compelling are the author’s dissections of the fraught dynamics on her mother Margie’s side of the family: after Margie’s mother died of tuberculosis, her sister was adopted by an aunt and joined a household that “simmer[ed] with distrust and resentment.” Tracking the various branches of the author’s family tree may be a little daunting for some readers, but she skillfully adds detours into various other subjects, such as the scourge of tuberculosis—which claimed the lives of several of her relatives—and the Los Angeles oil rush that began in the 1890s.

Walstad brings a keen eye for social history to her family chronicle.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Echinodorus Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 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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