Filled with a sumptuous cast of real-life adventurers, this is an engrossing and stirring tale.

ANTARCTICA'S LOST AVIATOR

THE EPIC ADVENTURE TO EXPLORE THE LAST FRONTIER ON EARTH

The biography of a man who “competed for the last great prize in polar exploration.”

Readers who grew up devouring the Tom Swift adventure novels, with their flying boats and subocean geotrons, will find much to like in Maynard’s (The Unseen Anzac: How an Enigmatic Explorer Created Australia’s World War I Photographs, 2015, etc.) engrossing biography of Lincoln Ellsworth (1880-1951). He was something of a “mystery” to the author until he came upon a cache of Ellsworth’s papers, which “opened an intimate window into one of the strangest episodes in polar history.” The son of a domineering, ultrawealthy coal baron, Ellsworth was an insecure man in search of a purpose. A college dropout, he had the money to do whatever he wanted, so he became a professional adventurer. He prospected for gold and participated in a buffalo hunt (which he wrote a book about) and a geological survey in Peru. His life changed in 1924 when he met Roald Amundsen, the “world’s greatest polar explorer.” Ellsworth’s father provided the financing for the two of them to explore the Arctic by air, but the expedition failed. After Ellsworth’s father died, he inherited millions. He financed Amundsen’s semirigid airship expedition to be the first to reach the North Pole by air. But Richard Byrd did it first, although, as Maynard notes, he actually came up short. Ellsworth then financed explorer Hubert Wilkins’ expedition to travel in a submarine to the North Pole. It failed. After a series of harrowing, unsuccessful Arctic expeditions by air, finally, in 1935, using a reconditioned herring boat which Ellsworth named after one of his heroes, Wyatt Earp, and a specially modified airplane he named Polar Star, Ellsworth and his pilot were the first to cross Antarctica. “By guess or by God,” Maynard writes, it “remains an incredible achievement.”

Filled with a sumptuous cast of real-life adventurers, this is an engrossing and stirring tale.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-012-5

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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