LIGE LANGSTON

SWEET IRON

A rootin’-tootin’ biography of a Nevada cowpoke. Call it the Horse Whisperer Syndrome: cowboys are in these days, and the more authentic the better. Lige Langston fits the bill; the scion of a Nevada ranching family, he’s ridden the hardpan desert since 1908, and he has tales to tell on matters ranging from childhood schoolmarms (“My first teacher was Miss Barber and gee, she was swell”) to gypsum mining (“I got a job runnin’ the jackhammer. Two of us. A little Eye-talian guy. Vince, and me”) to breaking horses (“Her and me ended up cuttin’ his rope right in two, about six inches from the hondo”). Hussa, a California poet and rancher, has collected Langston’s yarns in this patchwork volume, made up of her own biographical interpolations, other Nevada ranchers’ memoirs of Langston, the homespun yarns themselves, and photographs, all mingled in a narrative (and typographic) jumble. The effect is sometimes of a family scrapbook, at other times of a postmodern hyperfiction; either way, it’s not the most straightforward reading. Readers willing to brave the text will learn a thing or two about the cowboy life, and especially about how hard, dangerous, lonely, unlucrative, and unromantic the whole enterprise of livestock tending is; Langston’s whisky-lubed tales are full of treacherous farm machinery, horses, and fellow wranglers. Those readers will also pick up a good store of cowboy vernacular (in which lambs are “little toe-dancers” and skittish horses are “goosey buggers”) and a feel for the high-lonesome” the Nevada desert, America’s outback. Readers of Max Brand and Louis L’Amour will thrill to this book, and students of Western folklore and literature will find much of interest here as well. (For the tale of a contemporary cowboy, see David McCumber, The Cowboy Way, p. 123)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8061-3109-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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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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