A laudable effort that meets with mixed success.

WILD THINGS, WILD PLACES

ADVENTUROUS TALES OF WILDLIFE AND CONSERVATION ON PLANET EARTH

The stage and screen actress delivers a memoir focused on her wildlife conservation work.

When she was the director of the National Endowment for the Arts in the mid-1990s, Alexander (Command Performance: An Actress in the Theater of Politics, 2000, etc.) famously butted heads with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who was attempting to eliminate support for the arts from the budget. Less well known are the author’s activities in support of the conservation of endangered species. In her second memoir, Alexander chronicles her global travels to remote areas around the world—e.g., Belize, Thailand, Bhutan, Ecuador, Newfoundland, Madagascar—in search of rare wildlife. She describes accounts of the illegal, wanton killing of rhinoceroses for their horns, which are used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine and sell for as much as $100,000 on the black market. In Thailand, the government imports elephants to satisfy the tourist trade while, at the same time, vast networks of corrupt government officials permit the “slaughtering of tigers and other wild cats to supply the Asian trade in body parts.” Alexander couples this grim picture with enthusiastic accounts of the exotic birds and animals she has seen on her global travels, and the transitions can be jarring. She begins with a report on a 1982 trip to the still relatively undeveloped “birder’s paradise” of Belize, where, despite no sightings, she was thrilled to hear the “deep guttural cough” of a jaguar. The author also describes birding in Peru and recounts the experience of being greeted with a welcoming ceremony by New Guinean villagers in traditional costumes. While many readers will share the author’s concerns about conservation, Alexander provides few new insights into the people and places she has visited, and the narrative hops from place to place without enough connecting elements between the anecdotes.

A laudable effort that meets with mixed success.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-35436-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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