A solid addition to the burgeoning literature on the social and health-related effects of fracking.

AMITY AND PROSPERITY

ONE FAMILY AND THE FRACTURING OF AMERICA

Griswold (The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, 2010, etc.) immerses herself with a few Pennsylvania families in rural areas near Pittsburgh to chronicle their life-threatening battles against the fracking industry.

To extract natural gas deposits from deep within the ground, giant energy companies employ processes and chemicals that can disseminate dangerous substances into drinking water sources and into the air. The author, an extraordinarily versatile wordsmith as a poet, translator, and journalist, visited a region of Pennsylvania that had become a fracking crossroads. At a meeting of concerned citizens receiving payments for fracking on their land but angry about unforeseen environmental degradation, Griswold met Stacey Haney. A lifelong citizen of Amity—near the nearly depopulated town of Prosperity—Haney, a nurse, has been worried that harmful elements from the fracking process have yielded chronic illnesses in herself and her children. Neither Haney nor most of her neighbors wanted to become social activists (many of them usually vote Republican and support Donald Trump). However, the increasing financial debt of the citizens from both towns, combined with the puzzling chronic ailments, led them to hire a team of lawyers to craft a court challenge or at least force the state’s environmental protection agency to halt fracking operations of for-profit corporations. Because no scientific consensus has emerged about the societal benefits versus the public health hazards of fracking, the Haneys, as well as the other plaintiffs, worry that they will never prevail on technical grounds. Surprisingly, several Pennsylvania courts ruled against the fracking industry, but the Haneys and other plaintiffs received little in the way of tangible benefits. As the author inserts herself into the narrative about one-third of the way through, she becomes a character with apparent sympathies for the individual plaintiffs and their hardworking lawyers, but her reporting is, for the most part, evenhanded.

A solid addition to the burgeoning literature on the social and health-related effects of fracking.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-10311-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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