An excellent lesson in the history and culture of a most English pursuit.

THE FOX IN THE CUPBOARD

A MEMOIR

Shilling takes up foxhunting in middle age and finds adventure and thrills—and gets an insider's view of one of the great conflicts of contemporary British society.

London Times columnist Shilling is an accidental hunter. While casting about for a new hobby, the unrepentant urbanite decides to try a few horseback riding lessons. (This despite her lifelong aversion to exercise.) When she finds herself at the Rooting Street stables, under the frighteningly capable tutelage of one Mrs. Rogers, however, Shilling suddenly realizes that she desperately wants to become an accomplished rider, and that it will be far more difficult than she’d imagined. Moreover, she wants to go foxhunting, a goal that will give meaning to the hundreds of lessons and the endless expenditure. Thus, over the course of some years, she acquires a horse of her own and eventually rides out with the Ashford Valley Hunt in Kent—a feeble horsewoman, perhaps, but a dogged one. Shilling is equally determined to make clear to the reader the myriad seductions of what is now a banned pursuit in England, although her book was published before Parliament’s February 2005 decision. She presents the deep involvement with the countryside that hunting brings, the intricate relationship of human and hound, the camaraderie of those who understand the siren pull of the hunt and the ongoing conflict between anti-hunting activists and the Countryside Alliance, along with a great deal of foxhunting history. The whole is spiced with humor. Shiller, who is ambivalent about killing a fox, wonders at one point if her new hobby is akin to “poor, mad Zelda Fitzgerald and her loopy attempts to train as a ballet dancer.”

An excellent lesson in the history and culture of a most English pursuit.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-7681-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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