The challenges are daunting, but Gaudet’s detailed, undogmatic account of multiple attempts to counter overdevelopment with...

PAPYRUS

THE PLANT THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: FROM ANCIENT EGYPT TO TODAY'S WATER WARS

The hardy reed that stood at the center of ancient Egyptian civilization can foster sustainable growth in the 21st century, asserts ecologist Gaudet (Island of Pigs, 2011, etc.).

The papyrus serves as a focus for the author’s broad exploration of the vital role that wetlands (including papyrus swamps) play in preserving and replenishing the global environment. Indeed, the plant’s history is not especially well-conveyed in the book’s scattershot opening chapters, which confusingly mix a history of papyrus use and mythology in ancient Egypt with tales of 19th- and 20th-century European explorers in Africa, plus such present-day swamp-dwellers as Louisiana’s Cajuns. None of it serves any clear purpose, but in the much better chapters that follow, Gaudet hits his stride, chronicling decades of misguided dam-building and swamp-draining that, combined with accelerating urbanization, have created horrific pollution problems and water shortages across Africa and the Middle East. Gaudet is not a doomsayer, however; he points to such hopeful signs for the future as Israel’s Huleh Nature Reserve, which partially restored a wetland area shortsightedly drained in the 1950s, bringing many wild birds (and tourists) back to the area. Other positive developments include regional cooperation on the Transaqua Project, intended to revive the dying wetlands of Lake Chad, and the Nile Basin Initiative, to protect the water resources of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Papyrus plays an important role since papyrus swamps can inexpensively filter polluted water and slow water loss from evaporation. Yet many obstacles remain—e.g., witness the 22-year civil war that erupted in part over a bypass canal that would have drained the Sudd, a vast complex of wetlands that nourishes rural South Sudan, to line the pockets of North Sudanese businessmen and provide more water for urbanized Egypt, which killed off its own papyrus swamps a millennium ago.

The challenges are daunting, but Gaudet’s detailed, undogmatic account of multiple attempts to counter overdevelopment with better practices inspires cautious optimism.

Pub Date: June 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60598-566-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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