A sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it.

THE CARRY HOME

A eulogy to the too-early passing of the author’s mate and a chronicle of the “[f]ive treks to five unshackled landscapes” to scatter her ashes.

Ferguson (Rainier Writing Workshop/Pacific Lutheran Univ.; Opening Doors: Carole Noon and Her Dream to Save the Chimps, 2014, etc.) has had a fruitful career as a natural history writer, and he has always been fascinated by the outdoors: “Foremost on our minds in those years was the hope that the last of America’s big, unfettered landscapes might help us sustain the open-heartedness of youth,” he writes. Here, the author twines this talent for alert, panoptical movement through spaces and places with an encomium for his wife, Jane, who died in 2005 in a canoeing accident on the Kopka River in Ontario. The story wanders from the past to the present, from emotions to observations, the trigger of memory pulled by a Hudson Bay blanket, a loon call, a road atlas, prairie smoke and Apache bloom. Throughout, the author emphasizes and explores the couple’s love of, and devotion to, the natural world, taking a cue from Kenneth Rexroth to “see life steadily, see it whole,” experiencing that first shock of sage in a landscape where the wild light of the unvarnished outdoors pointed to something elemental and life-giving. Pearly sentences slide one to another as Ferguson travels “deeper into grief”—but he never fully gave in to despair, and that is to readers’ benefit. The author’s treks both scorched and gladdened him, as he traveled to places of enormous power, bringing into focus the anti-environmental ethos that governs a crippled economy, the “irritating...preciousness” of self-stamped environmentalists “with an embarrassing tendency to want to shut the door to development as soon as we moved in.”

A sprawling, lovely, nourishing tonic for all those who dip into it.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1619024489

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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