A compelling documentary portrait of the real Marmee, whose life provided the impetus for Little Women and who emerges here...

MY HEART IS BOUNDLESS

This revealing collection of Abigail May Alcott’s writings provides previously unknown details of the life of a 19th-century daughter, sister, wife and mother who associated with transcendental luminaries, suppressed her own dreams to provide for her family, inspired her famous daughter Louisa, and remained an ardent reformer for abolition and women’s rights.

Until now, little has been known of Abigail’s life, since many of her private papers were destroyed after her death. While writing the dual biography, Marmee & Louisa (2012), LaPlante uncovered surviving, untapped pages of Abigail’s journals and letters in archival and private collections, as well as a newly discovered cache of letters detailing May and Alcott family life from the 1830s to the 1870s. In compiling, editing and annotating a sampling of these private letters, poems, journal entries, miscellaneous papers, recipes and remedies, LaPlante, a descendant of the May family, sought to convey the spirit of Abigail’s writings. Organized chronologically, the writings are grouped by early years, courtship and marriage, motherhood, early middle life, employment, late middle age and old age. They trace Abigail’s evolution from a sickly, youngest child of seven, to a serious young scholar eschewing marriage, to a struggling wife and mother forced to support her family for decades, to a middle-age social worker and early advocate of women’s suffrage, to an aging grandmother. Abigail’s diaries and letters disclose an intelligent, self-sacrificing, tender woman whose moral conviction and strong character kept her engaged in social issues despite her tragic marriage. Each document includes the date and place of composition as well as footnotes for references unfamiliar to contemporary readers. Helpful annotations and a chronology provide further contextual detail.

A compelling documentary portrait of the real Marmee, whose life provided the impetus for Little Women and who emerges here as a noteworthy woman in her own right.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0280-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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