Though the story is clouded with public skepticism, this is a fascinating, action-packed account of long-term survival on...

438 DAYS

AN EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY OF SURVIVAL AT SEA

One man’s grueling odyssey across the Pacific Ocean on a crippled 25-foot fishing vessel.

Documentarian and journalist Franklin (33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners, 2011) meticulously re-creates the harrowing voyage of Salvador Alvarenga, a fisherman whose boat lost motor power hours after leaving the coast of Mexico and was cast adrift upon the ocean in November 2012. Since his arrival in the fishing village of Costa Azul four years prior, optimistic Alvarenga managed a unique work-life balance where “four-day drinking binges might be followed by ten days of non-stop fishing. Or vice versa.” It was during one of these lengthy fishing trips when he and young shipmate Ezequiel Cordoba ran into trouble. Expertly culled together from nine months of recollective personal interviews with Alvarenga as well as official search-and-rescue documentation, Franklin describes what was intended as a 30-hour expedition, but one that ran into stormy weather (forewarned to him by the boat’s owner). As much as the men attempted to navigate and stabilize through the squall, the boat’s motor, radio, and GPS all failed, blowing them far off course and well beyond the Mexican Coast Guard’s limited reach. The ensuing months aboard the boat form an exhaustive, unnerving, and exquisitely surreal survival narrative as Alvarenga, becoming increasingly imperiled and helpless, began implementing desperate self-preservation tactics in order to fend off starvation, dehydration, scurvy, and hungry oceanic predators. More than a year later, in early 2014, Alvarenga was discovered naked and delirious in the Marshall Islands, 5,500 miles away from where he initially set sail (Cordoba died several months into the journey). Though Franklin admits to initially doubting the veracity of Alvarenga’s story (“Who survives 14 months at sea?”), his vicarious documentation ultimately became “an adventure and an education that I will never forget.” Meanwhile, Alvarenga now celebrates the innumerable “small pleasures” of the simple life on land.

Though the story is clouded with public skepticism, this is a fascinating, action-packed account of long-term survival on the open seas.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1629-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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