A delightful journey with excellent sketches, renderings, and resources for museums and organizations.

BRILLIANT BEACONS

A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN LIGHTHOUSE

A fine history of lighthouses, “among the most beloved and romanticized structures in the American landscape.”

The author of other masterly works on key aspects of American history and growth (Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America, 2010, etc.), Dolin here presents a thoughtful, straightforward chronicle of the American lighthouse, from the earliest, completed in 1716 at Little Brewster, in Boston Harbor, as a harbinger of burgeoning Colonial maritime growth, to the death of the last civilian keeper—at the Coney Island Lighthouse—in 2003, Nearly all the biggest cities in the Colonies were ports, and little by little, the harbors at Rhode Island (Beavertail Point), New York (Sandy Hook), and South Carolina (Charleston’s Morris Island) were constructed in quick succession. Wars wreaked havoc on lighthouses, as they became military targets and were often dismantled—e.g., Sandy Hook was seized by the British during the Revolution, becoming a magnet for loyalist refugees; the Key West, Florida, lighthouse, seized by the Union in 1861, provided the Union naval forces lighted guidance through the dangerous south Florida waters during the entire war. Throughout the book, Dolin ties together important strands to the lighthouse story: the federal government took over from the states the building and upkeep of lighthouses with the Lighthouse Act of 1789, indicating the importance of the institution yet also putting the oversight at the “rule of ignorant and incompetent men,” such as the penny-pinching, shortsighted, long-running auditor Stephen Pleasonton. He relied on the old-fashioned “magnifying and reflecting lantern” of Winslow Lewis rather than the state-of-the-art European Fresnel lens (created by French inventor Augustin-Jean Fresnel), adopted finally by all lighthouses through the Lighthouse Board in 1851. Dolin also weaves in the heroic stories of lighthouse keepers (men and women), and along with engineering feats, there are also fantastic tales of kamikaze birds and other instances of wild nature coming up against these man-made structures.

A delightful journey with excellent sketches, renderings, and resources for museums and organizations.

Pub Date: April 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-87140-668-2

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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