FIVE THOUSAND DAYS LIKE THIS ONE

AN AMERICAN FAMILY HISTORY

A lovely and melancholy history of her family and its farm, a holdout in the soil-poor Northeast, from Brox (Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and Its Family, 1995). The place has 40 cleared acres, 100 in woodlot, and another dozen given over to peaches and apples—Baldwins, of course, no longer in favor despite their spicy juices. This is a typical New England farm, clasping “its small fields set off by chinked walls and the mixed woods beyond” and typical too in its poor luck, though the homestead has not nearly so bad a case of the dwindles as Brox’s father, who commits to her the family past as he lies dying. Brox shoulders her father’s mantle. Poring over his papers and walking the land, she experiences (and coaxes life from) the farm as her father must have 50 years before. She also turns caretaker of the family stories and tells with care and artistry the tale of her Lebanese grandparents, come to the Lawrence, Mass., woolen and worsted mills, there adding Arabic to the babel of languages heard over the clacking of the looms. They bought a small farm and raised cows: “Five cents a quart, three cents a pint—the first customers got all the cream—until his ladle scraped the bottom of a can and he poured the last blue milk into a mason jar.” Brox recounts all the little ways the Great War made inroads into their lives, the impossibly grim influenza pandemic of 1918, and the workers” strikes that shut the mills of Lawrence and Lowell, where “the noise in the weave rooms was loud enough to break the sleep of earth.” Unlike the mill owners, Brox plans to stay put. This is quite beautiful music, the sound of a family’s life that keeps ringing in a daughter’s ears.

Pub Date: March 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-8070-2106-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more