“The word ‘cowboy’ has taken on negative connotations in recent times,” writes Kelton wryly, “especially in a political or...

READ REVIEW

SANDHILLS BOY

THE WINDING TRAIL OF A TEXAS WRITER

Charming memoir of renowned western novelist Kelton’s (Texas Showdown, not reviewed) early years in the saddle, at the desk and in the trench.

The author’s querencia—the word means something like the place where a person is most at home—is at the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, “a ranch in Crane and Upton counties, just east of the Pecos River.” Kelton, born in 1926, found his life work not only as a novelist of daily life in the rural West (“My characters,” he writes, “are five-eight and nervous”) but also as an agricultural journalist of high standing. To arrive there, as he relates, he had to live the tough life of the cowhand, his parents bound by inclination and custom to a part of the country that could be unforgiving and ungenerous for years at a time, but then surprise with a bountiful harvest. His father was part of the “last full-time horseback cowboy generation,” and if he himself learned how to get around on a horse and throw a lasso, Kelton (and his father) soon recognized that he was better suited to something other than cowboying. With another querencia in books such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and the collected works of Zane Grey, Kelton came of age aspiring to be a writer—and found his Depression-scarred father wholly in support, if a little worried about how the boy would make a living. Kelton’s memoir then moves in rapid succession from ranch to university, and just as quickly into combat, describing his service as a foot soldier during World War II and courtship of a young Austrian widow whom he would take home to Texas, to considerable culture shock on both sides.

“The word ‘cowboy’ has taken on negative connotations in recent times,” writes Kelton wryly, “especially in a political or military context.” This memoir helps restore what to westerners is an honorable term, and it’s a pleasure through and through.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-765-31521-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more