A breath of fresh air. (8-page photo insert, not seen)

WALKING HOME

A WOMAN’S PILGRIMAGE ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL

Freelance writer Winters engagingly narrates her trek along most of the Appalachian Trail, from its start in Georgia to its end in Maine.

The Appalachian Trail, or AT, served as a rite of passage for the author, who left a series of dead-end jobs and ended a disastrous relationship before beginning her journey at the summit of Springer Mountain, Georgia. (The eight-mile path leading to the trailhead is so steep that some hikers have given up before reaching the actual AT.) The author—trail name Amazin’ Grace—spent six months hiking the AT’s 2,000 miles, along which she became part of a community of travelers with monikers like Dances With Mice, Bearbait, Maine Event, and G.R. Dia. Braced for a grueling pilgrimage, Winters was unprepared for the social side of trail life. Although she usually walked alone during the day, her nights were spent with assorted hikers at mice- and skunk-infested shelters. The majesty of nature and the easygoing support of other “thruhikers” helped ease Winters’s initial loneliness and enabled her to forge a new relationship, this time with someone she met on the trail. The author includes myriad observations of AT culture and etiquette. Some hikers are purists walking only on the “official” white-blazed AT. Others occasionally hike trails marked with blue blazes; these are older sections of the AT, or trails that intersect with roads leading toward much-needed supplies. “Yellow-blazing” is hitchhiking, “green-blazing” is not following a trail at all, and “ghost-blazing” is daring to venture where original white AT markers have been painted out or faded. The Trail itself? As one short-timer put it: “Let’s see . . . up and down, up and down, up and down. Followed by down and up.”

A breath of fresh air. (8-page photo insert, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55583-658-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Alyson

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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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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