A deeply felt, unforgettable story that will linger in readers’ imaginations.

THE FARMER'S SON

CALVING SEASON ON A FAMILY FARM

A writer returns home to work at his family’s farm in rural Ireland and records day-to-day struggles and triumphs throughout his first season.

In this thoughtfully observed and poignant debut memoir, Connell paints a remarkably authentic portrait of farm life in all its harshness and beauty. His story begins in January as he is about to deliver his first calf on his own. He describes the long, painstakingly intense procedure before he successfully delivered the calf, followed by the equally difficult task of helping the newborn to feed. This experience sets the tone for the engrossing narrative that follows, as Connell recounts the many challenging moments he faced over the next several months. These included the births and deaths of various livestock, endless feeding and cleaning, and protecting the animals from varied and unpredictable forces of nature. “The work is so relentless that I have forgotten I have lived other lives or that other lives exist,” writes Connell. “There is only the yard and cows and the mountain of chores before me.” The author also shares his internal struggle with his identity and family, in particular the difficult ties with his father, who has been mentor and guide and occasionally his harshest critic. Connell returned to the farm following a 10-year absence working as a journalist and film producer and living abroad, all the while preserving a longing for the farm life he left behind and struggling through periods of depression. Though the author vividly depicts the many hardships and grueling labor involved in running a farm, he maintains an open reverence for the intrinsic value of these efforts and a deep compassion for the animals and environment. “Farming,” he writes, “is a walk with survival, with death over our shoulder, sickness to our left, the spirit to our right and the joy of new life in front.”

A deeply felt, unforgettable story that will linger in readers’ imaginations.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-57799-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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 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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