THE HOME OF THE BLIZZARD

A TRUE STORY OF ANTARCTIC SURVIVAL

A classic of outdoor adventure that, although a little dry by today’s post-Krakauer standards, remains powerful. Mawson, an Australian mountaineer/explorer who died in 1958, traveled to Antarctica as a member of a British government surveying expedition in 1913. He found the continent to be less daunting in some ways than he might have anticipated—the weather on the southern shore of the Ross Sea, for one thing, was often surprisingly mild—although certainly dangerous. As he writes, much of his team’s early work lay in the uninteresting details of packing and unpacking thousands of pounds of coal, canned food sufficient to last for two years (—preserved meats were taken only in comparatively small quantities, for in the matter of meat we intended to rely chiefly on seal and penguin flesh—), mapping equipment, and countless other bits of ordnance. He would come to miss those uneventful days when he and members of his party traveled inland from the Ross Sea shelf to map the rugged interior, where glacial ice and blizzards proved to be a constant challenge. So, too, did rocky cliffs and hidden crevasses, one of which swallowed up a comrade and his dog team. And so, too, did frostbite, which claimed bits and pieces of each of his team. Mawson writes with understatement and the explorer’s customary sangfroid (—I received rather a nasty squeeze through falling into a hole whilst going downhill, the sledge falling on me before I could get clear”), a stiff-upper-lip stance that gives way from time to time to unmistakable affection, both for his fellow travelers and for Antarctica itself, which Mawson found to be hauntingly beautiful. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the famed British explorer, writes in the foreword to this reissue of this 1915 title that he rereads Mawson’s book —during the planning stage of each new expedition.— The lesson less practiced polar explorers might take away is: stay home and read this book.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-21125-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

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

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