A genuine and refreshing nature memoir.

FLOATING

A LIFE REGAINED

In his debut memoir, a British journalist and copywriter tells the story of how outdoor swimming helped him cope with anxiety.

Minihane had glamorous dreams of becoming a journalist and travel writer, but as he approached 30, he found himself churning out copy about “phones, game consoles and speakers” instead. Even worse, the anxiety that had trailed him since graduate school had become a permanent feature of his life that he hid from everyone, including his wife. Temporary relief came only through swimming, so he swam “to fix myself, to cure myself and to make myself a better person in my own eyes.” In researching different places to partake of his “remedy,” the author came across the work of naturalist Roger Deakin, who had undertaken a journey across the British countryside to indulge his passion for swimming wild. Inspired, Minihane decided he would honor the late naturalist by following in his wake. He began his quest at a London public facility that he disliked for the way it had been transformed into a “commodity” rather than something that served the “well-being of society.” His first taste of the addictive headiness of a wild swim came with his experience in the River Granta. “Despite succumbing to extreme shivers,” he writes, “I was on a soaring high.” The inertia that had crippled him fell away as he eagerly anticipated each new adventure, which took him all over England and Scotland and helped him reconnect with old friends. When he accidentally broke his wrist and had to stop swimming, Minihane’s adventure ground to a halt and his anxiety returned. He sought therapy, which eventually became “like the swims I had enjoyed.” With expectations newly revised, the author resumed his watery journey, which had finally become his own. Detailed and searching, the book chronicles one man’s search for inner peace while reaffirming the calming power of the natural world.

A genuine and refreshing nature memoir.

Pub Date: July 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1492-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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