Armchair sailors will enjoy the vicarious thrills of Foy’s brief journeys, and even those with no intentions of abandoning...

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FINDING NORTH

HOW NAVIGATION MAKES US HUMAN

Novelist and amateur sailor Foy (Creative Writing/New York Univ.; Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence, 2010, etc.), who sees technology as a distinctly mixed blessing, chronicles his journey up the New England coast in a rickety boat without satellite guidance.

In a poetically written, occasionally fragmented account, the author traces his attempts to emulate with more success his great-great grandfather, who died when his ship went down in the frigid waters off Norway. Before taking off on the brief sail from Cape Cod to Maine described in two chapters, in which the author nearly falls off the ship during high winds and reluctantly uses GPS to navigate to shore through the fog once he has reached his destination, he undertook some other navigation-related adventures. He got lost in “a casual sort of way” on his way to NYU’s biology lab to explore how cells make their ways to their proper positions; encountered “the dark heart of GPS” at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado; and hitched a ride with a Haitian boat captain who steers by the stars. Later, he headed off to Norway to try, with questionable success, to find the spot in the ocean where his ancestor’s ship went down. Attempts to work in his feelings about the recent death of his brother take the book off course, and speculations about the connection between the increase in the number of Alzheimer’s cases and the more frequent use of GPS are far-fetched. The author’s work is most successful at its most visceral: the feeling of “slaloming around lobster trap buoys, like a plane lost in clouds,” or the sight of life jackets, “hung like orange fruit in the rigging.”

Armchair sailors will enjoy the vicarious thrills of Foy’s brief journeys, and even those with no intentions of abandoning their smartphones will find something to ponder in his speculations about the challenges of gadget-free navigation.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-05268-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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