A wonderful tribute to the greatness of the human spirit.

NO BARRIERS

A BLIND MAN'S JOURNEY TO KAYAK THE GRAND CANYON

The first blind man to climb Mount Everest narrates his kayaking descent of 300 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

On one level, this is a tale of grit, determination, courage, and overcoming tremendous odds. With co-author Levy, Weihenmayer (The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles Into Greatness, 2007, etc.) presents an exhilarating adventure story of arduous mountain climbing and whitewater kayaking, but he also offers broader life lessons. Over the course of eight years, the author organized his kayaking team as a byproduct of helping others, including blind orphans in Tibet and Nepal, blind teenagers in America, and veterans of our recent wars recovering from physical and mental wounds. Among them was Kyle, an amputee who pledged to scatter a fallen comrade’s ashes from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and a shy blind kid named Joey, who had never peeled an orange. Weihenmayer’s organization No Barriers is intended to address those in need in many different ways. For one, the author works intensively with youth. “For blind kids to succeed,” he writes, “they don’t just need other blind people. They’ll need to work with seeing people to harness those abilities and learn to thrive in the sighted world.” Weihenmayer elaborates on the skills required to achieve significant goals, including finding the right people, technologies, and methods necessary to accomplish these goals. It took a team of 10 to help the author make his descent down the Colorado, and the stories of the team members, some of whom had been with the author through many adventures, add to the narrative. Together, they developed a plan of attack for each of the rapids and unique communication and power supply methods, and they were backed by a logistics operation moving tons of equipment. Ultimately, in this highly inspirational tale, the Grand Canyon, like Everest and other summits, becomes a metaphor for life: “physical, mental, and psychological and…never ending.”

A wonderful tribute to the greatness of the human spirit.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08878-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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