A slight book of reminiscence, seemingly meant for English majors who love the outdoors. Tallmadge (Literature and Environmental Studies/Union Institute Graduate School) charts his academic course from campus to campus, teaching and learning. In his telling, his career seems unremarkable (he was denied tenure, about which he writes at some length), although he clearly knows his subject, American nature writing, and emerges as a committed and engaging teacher. His ``teacher's path'' becomes considerably more interesting when it departs from campus and heads for the mountains. There, in the Wasatch, the Wind River, the Appalachians, the Sierra Nevada, and other ranges, Tallmadge affectingly describes his search for a place to call home, which, he eventually realizes, is ``not a place one finds, but a place one makes.'' Along the way, the author discusses books and authors like Henry David Thoreau (whom he idolizes), Edward Abbey (whom he does not), and other important players in what he calls the ``infinite game of reading.'' The book is at its best at self-critical moments, such as when Tallmadge examines our latter-day nature-loving spirit in the light of the idealism of the '60s, when his contemporaries ``saw in the wilderness, with its healthy and interdependent communities, a model for just and sustainable human societies''—but then scorned the uninitiated who did not share their budding Green sensibilities. This volume is at its worst when Tallmadge falls into sentimentalizing about ``the wisdom and beauty of the land'' and the teacher's role in ``healing both society and the earth.'' This suffers from not treating any one of its many subjects at quite enough length. The result is neither a book of personal essays as such, nor a vade mecum for teachers, nor even a book about nature strictly defined, but a glancing coming-of-age story that is of narrow interest.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-87480-530-9

Page Count: 218

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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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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