A deeply felt book that will lead readers to other books that inspired it.

THE SMALL HEART OF THINGS

BEING AT HOME IN A BECKONING WORLD

A sharply observed, occasionally overwritten collection of essays on the interrelationships of man and nature, of soul and place.

Born in Britain and raised in Canada, Hoffman now lives in and often writes of the Balkans, near the Prespa Lakes, a region of natural splendor and deep political divisions. He and his partner “were led to this Greek village by a book. Having read a glowing review of it in a bird-watching magazine, we bought the book on the off chance that we might someday visit the region it described. But it took only a single evening of leafing through its pages, reading passages aloud, and looking at photographs to reach a decision of far greater import…it captivated us from the start.” An impetuous romantic, the author also came to love that particular place, and here, he shares that love, as well as his love of books about places, for he seems to connect with nature from a particularly literary perspective. He writes of “the resonance of place,” “the environmental vicissitudes of place,” and the feeling that “there are no clean, easy lines that connect ourselves to a place, as if we were joining up a question with its answer in a beginner’s language book.” More compelling than such grand pronouncements and conceptual conceits are the specifics of experience and detail, the wonder Hoffman finds in this seemingly insignificant woods, in the cry of this bird or the stateliness of that tree, and the exhilaration he feels as he experiences life as part of the natural world: “The places where I can look up or out, either at the vast ceiling of cloud and sky, or the disappearing horizon, and feel more or less the same thing: the inconsequential scale of our lives. Paradoxically, it is in those places that I feel most alive, experiencing a wild and shuddering depth to existence.”

A deeply felt book that will lead readers to other books that inspired it.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8203-4556-7

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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