For fans, a nostalgic stop in a celebrated oeuvre. For newcomers, a welcome introduction to a veteran of the form.

READ REVIEW

CLASSIC KRAKAUER

ESSAYS ON WILDERNESS AND RISK

An investigative journalist’s early work portrays his enduring fascination with human daring.

Krakauer (Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, 2015) gathers essays that were published in magazines such as Smithsonian and Outside from the mid-1980s through the 1990s along with two from 2014. The majority feature awe-inspiring locales that are enlivened by the author’s naturalist eye, and robust action and suspenseful pacing enhance careful explorations of power and innovation. A handful highlight larger-than-life people, including Californian surfer Mark Foo, who drowned at Mavericks (California), “one of the world’s heaviest waves,” and mountaineer Fred Beckey (1923-2017), “the original climbing bum.” Three pieces examine death in the context of industries that include surfing, rock climbing, and wilderness therapy camps. Among the strongest essays is "Loving Them to Death," an exposé on abuse and teen deaths that happened under the neglectful watch of a camp leader. A solid mix of conversations, background, and travel adds up to cleareyed reportage that still shocks. In the reverent, often beautiful "Gates of the Arctic,” memory splices with reflections on the Alaskan Brooks Range and the damaging footprint left by locals and visitors. In two essays, Krakauer considers the future from different angles. In one, the author writes about Mount Rainier and the danger of inevitable mudflows. In the other, Krakauer chronicles his journey with scientists who study microbial life in the hope that it will spark long-term research on Mars. The author effectively balances natural drama with thoughtful reflection and fascinating facts. When the writing is cautionary, it plucks at emotional chords. When it travels wild vistas and tense excursions, it shows Krakauer at his best. A few pieces remain outliers, such as the closing essay, which was delivered as a speech and shuttles toward a reluctant conclusion. A profile of Christopher Alexander, an “iconoclastic architect of international repute,” is less hard-hitting and only mildly interesting.

For fans, a nostalgic stop in a celebrated oeuvre. For newcomers, a welcome introduction to a veteran of the form.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984897-69-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more