A thoughtful study of a celebrated natural wonder that has come to truly “embod[y] American ideals.”

WONDERLANDSCAPE

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK AND THE EVOLUTION OF AN AMERICAN CULTURAL ICON

A sensitive portrait of the iconic national park in terms of the American people’s place in it.

American history and culture converged in the creation and preservation of Yellowstone National Park, as Montana journalist Clayton (Stories from Montana's Enduring Frontier: Exploring an Untamed Legacy, 2013, etc.) delineates in his fine survey. The author proceeds chronologically in his exploration of the many layers of Yellowstone’s significance, from its geological magnificence to its function as a romantic symbol of American self-image and illustration of the dire urgency for ecological attention. Clayton chronicles the stories of people who have been profoundly moved by the natural site and how their sagas dovetail with a larger cultural picture, beginning with the first intentional American expedition (the author sets aside Native American life for another study) by “upper-class explorers” in 1870-1871, which included painter Thomas Moran, who “intended to transform the nature he witnessed into art, into a piece of culture for others to consume,” and “scientist-bureaucrat” Ferdinand Hayden. As the concept of a romantic Western landscape merged with the sense of America's Manifest Destiny, Yellowstone grew in political stature and importance, as did its need for preservation by the 1880s (although Clayton reminds us that the National Park Service was not founded until 1916). Other significant personages in the development of the park as a cultural touchstone (and not just a sanctuary for wild animals) included architect Robert Reamer, who designed and built the eclectic Old Faithful Inn in 1903-1904; National Park leaders Horace Albright and Hermon Carey Bumpus, who advocated for roads and museums to make the park more accessible and “teachable”; twin brothers Frank and John Craighead, who conducted groundbreaking experiments with electronic trackers on grizzlies and other animals; and the valiant firefighters and ecologists who helped the park return to health after devastating fires in 1988.

A thoughtful study of a celebrated natural wonder that has come to truly “embod[y] American ideals.”

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-457-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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