A substantial contribution to understanding our environmental past.



America’s battle over conservation vs. preservation.

Clayton (Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park and the Evolution of an American Cultural Icon, 2017, etc.) divides his timely book into two parts: the relationship between friends and rivals John Muir (1838-1914) and Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946) and the dense underbrush of events, debates, bills, and laws regarding how America would protect public lands “that demonstrate our society’s relationship with nature.” Muir, co-founder of the Sierra Club, was a prolific author, scientist, and political activist who helped protect Yosemite. He was raised in an evangelical farming family but slowly turned away from it, passionately appreciating God through the works of nature. Pinchot’s family was wealthy. He dreamed of becoming America’s first forester and served as President Theodore Roosevelt’s chief adviser on environmental issues. Muir too was friends with the nature-loving president. Pinchot went on to found the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. Clayton looks at the issue of public lands through the lens of these two, seemingly like-minded men: prophet vs. statesman, a romantic vs. a practical man, and Muir’s moral authority vs. Pinchot’s tactical genius. As the author shows, they were collaborative rivals, each offering “alternative paths to articulating a constructive societal relationship to nature.” He uses the battle over damming Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide water to San Francisco as a key factor in understanding the Muir-Pinchot rivalry. Muir fought hard against it; Pinchot acquiesced. Muir lost. Ultimately, “their friendship was drowned under a reservoir.” The book is populated with a number of fascinating figures: Frederick Law Olmsted; co-editor of The Century magazine, Robert Underwood Johnson; and Aldo Leopold, who argued for balancing the use of public land with sustainable logging and water supplies. Today, Clayton writes, we need a “visionary management framework,” not “culture wars.”

A substantial contribution to understanding our environmental past.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-080-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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 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...


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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