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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, VOLUME 2

THE COMPLETE AND AUTHORITATIVE EDITION

Twain admirers will find this volume indispensable and will eagerly await the third volume.

In which the great American author, aided by his scholarly editors, continues to spin out a great yarn covering his long life.

In the year of his birth, writes Twain, John Marshall, the noted jurist and chief justice of the Supreme Court, died. A collection was taken up among lawyers to erect a statue to him, but then “a prodigious new event of some kind or other suddenly absorbed the whole nation and drove the matter of the monument out of everybody’s mind.” The money sat in a bank account for half a century collecting interest, and suddenly, in 1883 or so, it was rediscovered and used to build the memorial that now stands in the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. The statue is a material fact, but it is Twain’s storytelling that makes it come alive. Having written despairingly of the human race, and especially of its more murderous representatives, such as Belgium’s King Leopold, he takes the rare fact of honest politicians and fiduciaries as a tonic: “It takes the bitter taste out of my mouth to recall that beautiful incident.” Twain emerges as an unflinching social critic with a long list of targets, including the robber barons of his day and imperialist militarists like Leonard Wood. Yet, in this most personal of works, Twain also reserves plenty of spite for miscreant publishers: “Webster kept back a book of mine, ‘A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur,’ as long as he could, and finally published it so surreptitiously that it took two or three years to find out that there was any such book.” Twain is, as ever, a sharply honed and contrarian wit, as quick to lampoon himself as anyone else. He is also capable of Whitmanesque flights: “I am,” he declares, “the entire human race compacted together”—for better and for worse.

Twain admirers will find this volume indispensable and will eagerly await the third volume.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-520-27278-1

Page Count: 736

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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