Well crafted, intimate and engaging: an unorthodox rite of passage with ruminations on faith, feminism and more.

RIDING IN THE SHADOWS OF SAINTS

A WOMAN’S STORY OF MOTORCYCLING THE MORMON TRAIL

A quest for hope, meaning, a sense of place and ancestral connections, all mounted on two slippery wheels.

When she faced a personal crisis of fear and vulnerability exacerbated by 9/11, Richman recalls, she began talking about riding her motorcycle the length of the old Mormon Trail, 1,300 miles from Nauvoo, Ill., to Salt Lake City; in so doing, she would follow the path of seven of her great-great grandmothers (the eighth made the journey, though by train, not foot). At the point she realized she couldn’t back out of it, the author admits, “Everything about the idea scared the hell out of me—handling the bike, traveling alone, traffic, weather, road construction, strangers along the way, what I might find out about my Mormon ancestors, what I might find out about myself.” There’s her book, in a nutshell, but readers will also find that she writes candidly and from the heart about her rebellion from a conflicted Mormon family in Tooele, Utah—her father had no use for the church, constantly kept her steadfastly devout mother from full participation—and her own apostasy based on what turns out to be a not so simple lack of faith. She also admits that while she is an experienced rider (at 45), she has no affinity with a bike’s inner mechanical workings, and should she accidentally “drop” hers—let it fall down—loaded for touring at well over 500 pounds, she wouldn’t be able to pick it up by herself. Richman annotates her ride with stories of the original “Saints” (Mormons) on the sometimes tragic trek (over 10 percent died on the trail), often emotionally reliving the travails of her great-great-grandmothers. Self-realization, if not the true belief, is her reward at journey’s end.

Well crafted, intimate and engaging: an unorthodox rite of passage with ruminations on faith, feminism and more.

Pub Date: July 19, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-4542-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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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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