A charming memoir about birds and the people who love them.

THE BIRDS OF PANDEMONIUM

LIFE AMONG THE EXOTIC AND THE ENDANGERED

Raffin recounts how a chance encounter with an injured dove proved to be a life-changing experience.

Fifteen years ago, the author, now a conservation columnist for the Aviculture Society of America, was a stay-at-home mom who had put her career as a Silicon Valley executive on hold in order to care for her sons. When her trainer showed up late for their appointment at the gym, he explained that he had stopped to move an injured dove to the side of the highway. Raffin went back with him to pick up the bird and take it to a veterinarian; though it eventually died, the seeds of her new vocation were planted. A newspaper advertisement led to her agreeing to take in a pet dove in need of a home, and she was hooked. More birds followed, and she became a volunteer at a local bird shelter and then a certified aviculturist, after which she joined an informal network of experts. Raffin had found her calling, opening her home to a wide variety of birds. The author describes how, over the years, she has gained expertise in housing rare, endangered species—some of which have been illegally captured in the wild—and taken on the additional task of breeding them in captivity. Not only did the learning process prove “daunting,” it also required strategic planning—finding mates, “incubating eggs, hatching them, and caring for the babies.” By 2010, Pandemonium Aviaries, which had begun on a whim (fostering birds in need of a home), was a premier conservation-breeding operation playing an important global role in saving endangered species. “I've learned that their behavior is far more fascinating than their plumage…” writes the author, “and that 'birdbrain!' is the finest of compliments.”

A charming memoir about birds and the people who love them.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61620-136-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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