A fascinating look at the adventures of remarkably resilient men, so well-related as to make you feel the chill.

TO THE EDGES OF THE EARTH

1909, THE RACE FOR THE THREE POLES, AND THE CLIMAX OF THE AGE OF EXPLORATION

Pulitzer Prize winner Larson (History and Law/Pepperdine Univ.; The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, 2014, etc.) records the three most important expeditions during a highly significant year in polar exploration.

The Gilded Age was a time of great wealth, and men and women wanted to prove they were more than just society figures sipping champagne. Primary among these was the most famous climber at the time, Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, the Duke of the Abruzzi, who held the farthest-north record at the Arctic and first ascent on mountains on three continents. In 1909, he turned to the “Pole of Altitude” in the Himalayas, “one of the world’s highest mountains.” Mount Everest was out of the question, since Nepal and Tibet had closed their borders, but this would prove an equally difficult challenge. Focusing on the North Pole was American Robert E. Peary, who had mounted seven prior expeditions and had the lost toes to prove it. He had experienced many setbacks—e.g., trying to traverse sea ice that could carry away supplies, disrupt trails, and disorient returning groups. Peary was obsessed with gaining the pole and glory and downplayed scientific records and research while they wintered over. He also plundered the north and the Inuit Nation of religious objects, furs, and tusks. Ernest Shackleton relied on ponies and a fairly useless motor car to transport supplies in the Antarctic. His group included the best of scientific experts, split so one group, led by Edgeworth David, headed for the magnetic pole, which is not fixed but migrates with the Earth’s fluid core, and the other, led by Shackleton, for the geographic pole. Throughout, Larson delivers riveting tales of stalwart explorers risking their lives for discovery in some of the world’s harshest areas. Their successes and even their failures made them heroes.

A fascinating look at the adventures of remarkably resilient men, so well-related as to make you feel the chill.

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-256447-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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