Richly detailed, impeccably researched, and at times controversial: this merits a place alongside Bartram in the library...

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LOOKING FOR LONGLEAF

THE FALL AND RISE OF AN AMERICAN FOREST

A learned stroll through the shady groves of the South, past and present, where the longleaf pine once flourished and may yet rise again.

North Carolinian journalist and debut author Earley assembles an impressive sweep of knowledge in these pages, which open with a startling observation: where forests of longleaf pine once “sprawled over nearly 150,000 square miles, covering a wide swath of every coastal state from the James River in southeastern Virginia to the shores of Lake Okeechobee in the Florida peninsula and west to southeastern Texas,” its numbers had fallen by some 98 percent by the end of the 20th century—and only 12,000 acres of old-growth forest remain, scattered across the South. Where did the trees go? In times past, writes Earley, the longleaf formed the basis of a thriving pitch and tar industry, which was vital to the navies of Europe in those days of ocean-crossing wooden ships; not for nothing are North Carolinians called “Tarheels.” The industry emerged slowly at the beginning of the 18th century but quickly became of major importance, so that in the 1720s, “120 vessels were engaged in the coastwise and transatlantic trade of colonial tar, pitch, and raw gum.” The tree faced a new enemy long after the wooden ships disappeared: the US Forest Service, which embraced a policy of fire suppression and aggressive logging until very recently, but now finds itself in the position of retooling from being “the worst land managers in the world” to being champions of environmental restraint. Blending journalism with natural and human history and a keen appreciation for the land, Earley offers persuasive advocacy for a tree little known outside of its immediate region—but one of obvious importance, and one whose ongoing restoration can show other regions how to bring their old ecosystems back to life.

Richly detailed, impeccably researched, and at times controversial: this merits a place alongside Bartram in the library devoted to the South.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2004

ISBN: 0-8078-2886-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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