Depicted with consistent brio, stormy seas become epic events.



Swashbuckling maritime history reanimated by a noted naval enthusiast.

Mystery writer and nautical historian Druett (Run Afoul, 2006, etc.) does great justice to the saga of two large ships, the Grafton and the Invercauld, both shipwrecked on the same remote South Pacific island in 1864. The first vessel, navigated by French gold miner Francois Raynal and skilled captain Thomas Musgrave, embarked on an adventurous, intrepid voyage southeast of Australia toward Campbell Island to collect a cache of silver-laden tin. Through hurricanes and sea squalls, the Grafton reached the island, but a sudden illness and inclement weather forced the ship to attempt a return to Sydney. In his journal, Musgrave wrote that on the journey home, the sea looked “as if it were boiling.” Swallowed by an immense storm, the schooner was pounded into the jagged reefs of uninhabited Auckland Island. Its crew scrounged for shelter and food (sea lion and bird flesh, pungently described) ashore, with a plumb view of the Grafton’s rain-soaked wreckage looming as a grim reminder. Through months of navigating rugged terrain, fighting raw conditions and swarms of stinging sand flies, the castaways worked together utilizing wood from the ship’s hull to erect a cabin. Meanwhile, Scottish square-rigger Invercauld, bound for South America with a crew of 25, was being ripped apart by the perilous reefs on the other side of Auckland Island. After a year and a half, the resourceful Grafton crew built a small vessel and sailed to New Zealand; the Invercauld crew, whittled down to three survivors, had to be rescued by a passing Spanish vessel. Druett excels at recreating the men’s struggles and desperation (tempered by boundless hope) with extensive quotations from their journals. She also offers engaging biographical information on the castaways, descriptions of the island’s animal population and general historical detail.

Depicted with consistent brio, stormy seas become epic events.

Pub Date: June 8, 2007

ISBN: 1-56512-408-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...


A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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