Uneven testosterone-fueled entertainment.

CALL OF THE AMERICAN WILD

A TENDERFOOT'S ESCAPE TO ALASKA

The spirited account of how a Scottish newspaper sales executive built and lived in a log cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

After being demoted from a prestigious marketing job, writer and outdoorsman Grieve suddenly realized that he had to end what had become an “increasingly mournful journey through the corridors of cubicle hell.” He concluded that the antidote to his woes was to head to the wilds of Alaska, where he could rediscover his masculinity and find a path to freedom for himself and his family. A year later, a series of lucky breaks landed Grieve in a remote forest miles from the nearest human settlement. A hard-bitten Yukon transplant named Don and the members of his extended family educated the ardent Scotsman in the ways of survival and helped him build the log cabin that would become his home. A “neurotic and needy” dog named Fuzzy became Grieve's only companion. At first, the author reveled in the hunting, fishing and trapping that defined his daily routine. But as the harsh Alaskan winter settled on the land, Grieve began to see the extent of the risks he had taken with his life and the future of his family back in Scotland. Yet the headiness of living among bears, moose and wolves, learning how to become a dog-sled driver and surviving against the odds drove him onward and gave him insight into “how utterly small and insignificant” he really was. Grieve's Jack London-esque narrative is engaging, but it is undercut by what comes across as the author's irritatingly impotent feelings of guilt for seeking self-actualization away from his family.

Uneven testosterone-fueled entertainment.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61608-820-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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