An illuminating perspective of the man, his mission and the era in which he lived.




“[Ernest] Shackleton today is a cult figure who has assumed a mythical, almost saintly status,” writes journalist Smith (Great Endeavour: Ireland's Antarctic Explorers, 2010, etc.) in this fascinating exploration of the man behind the myth.

Given high honors and knighted by the king, Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) could not find his feet on shore. The author describes him as a paradoxical figure, an inspirational leader who excelled at improvisation when he was on the ice but a restless and impatient person when he was back in England. Unable to “spot a charlatan in a business suit,” Shackleton failed at a series of business ventures and “spent a life in the futile pursuit of riches, [leaving] behind a trail of debts” after his death during a fourth polar venture. Smith ranks Shackleton among the greatest explorers, yet he was held back by a lack of practicality, exemplified by his underestimation of the need for prowess in handling dogs and skis for ease of travel on ice. The author presents a lively account of the race to the South Pole, ultimately won by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen in 1911, and the bitter rivalry between Shackleton and his other British contender, Robert Scott. Although they sailed together in 1908, their first polar venture, they were directly contending for financial support as well as high honors. On the first (joint) trip, they succeeded in setting up a base and exploring the terrain, and Shackleton's second venture to the polar region brought him within tantalizing proximity to the pole. Both trips were scientific milestones. A third trip to Antarctica narrowly averted disaster when their ship was destroyed. Launched at the start of World War I, the expedition's sponsors were hard-pressed to find funding for a relief expedition.

An illuminating perspective of the man, his mission and the era in which he lived.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78074-572-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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

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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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