A steady, authoritative account of an intensely emotional public-policy conflict.




An in-depth narrative of the recent battle over the rights and future of Wisconsin's public-employee unions.

The 2010 elections put Republicans in control of Wisconsin, a state in severe budgetary crisis. The new governor, Scott Walker, proposed a budget-repair bill that would severely reduce the influence of the state's public-employee unions on state and local budgets, in large part by eliminating their collective bargaining rights. The Republicans’ conviction that this assault on union power was necessary to save the state from fiscal ruin, and the Democrats’ equally passionate conviction that they would not permit working people to be stripped of hard-won rights, set the stage for a colossal, no-holds-barred confrontation. The Senate's Democrats decamped for Illinois, and in the full glare of international publicity, Wisconsin descended into months of high-stakes legislative maneuvers, litigation, recall elections, and huge, raucous demonstrations inside and outside the state capitol, in the course of which "the institutions of the state…at times seized up and ceased to work,” demonstrating “how thin a line could separate a vibrant, respected democracy from illegitimacy and chaos." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters Stein and Marley deliver an impressively objective account of the struggle, ably describing the objectives and tactics of each side in a confident and engaging style. At times, however, amid the tussle du jour, readers may lose sight of the parties’ larger objectives. This may be the definitive history of exactly what each side did to the other during these momentous months: Portions of the resulting law are still before the courts, and it will be years before a sober evaluation of the effect of the legislation on Wisconsin, its unions and its budgetary processes can be undertaken. The authors wisely do not attempt one.

A steady, authoritative account of an intensely emotional public-policy conflict.

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-299-29384-0

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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