Stories full of faith and struggle lose none of their mythological quality.

MAYFLOWER LIVES

PILGRIMS IN A NEW WORLD AND THE EARLY AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

A prolific British historian explores the makeup of the motley crew—both “Saints” (Puritan separatists) and “Strangers” (economic migrants)—who ventured by sea to a foreign American land four centuries ago.

Whittock (When God Was King: Rebels & Radicals of the Civil War & Mayflower Generation, 2018, etc.), an engaging writer who uses (sometimes overly) exclamatory prose, discusses the lives of 14 of these extraordinary characters, out of the original 130 Mayflower travelers, each in their own chapter. Throughout, the author emphasizes the stunning hardship of that first voyage as many of the English separatists, then living in the Netherlands, left everything behind to plunge into the unknown. Moreover, the crew was originally headed to Virginia on a different ship whose chronic leaking forced them to delay for months before setting out in the Mayflower, and then they were driven by severe storms back up the Atlantic coast to present-day Plymouth in November 1620. Fully half of the total died within a year in America, unable to survive the cold and meager provisions of the first winter. Whittock examines each of his chosen’s backstory and upbringing in England, such as the Puritan leader William Bradford, radicalized as a teenager and one of the community in Leiden, who, with his wife, left their small son to sail to America—tragically, as his wife died shortly after arrival. The author’s female stories prove especially poignant—e.g., Susanna White, the mother of the first child born in America; and Mary More, the orphaned, indentured 4-year-old servant and child of an adulterous father; she died shortly after arrival, probably from neglect. Whittock also includes a fantastic biography of so-called Squanto (Tisquantum), who had been kidnapped by Englishmen earlier in his life, spoke English, and was returning to his native land, which was denuded of population due to the devastation of European-spread disease.

Stories full of faith and struggle lose none of their mythological quality.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-132-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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