A thoughtful first book that should inspire others to lace up their running shoes and get moving.

SPIRIT RUN

A 6,000-MILE MARATHON THROUGH NORTH AMERICA'S STOLEN LAND

A swift-moving lope across the continent, courtesy of runner and debut memoirist Álvarez.

Born in Washington state to Mexican immigrants, the author faced a future of working in a fruit warehouse with his parents, “my dreams of ever leaving Yakima ending here.” He adds, “I learned that I was poor, monolingual, and from a struggling family living the sort of day-to-day life that had no clear end in sight.” Escape came in the form of an invitation to take part in a run, organized by Native American activists, that would follow a course from Alaska to Panama, where the runners would meet other runners who had come north from Tierra del Fuego, all stopping at Native American communities along the way. It was a six-month commitment to a hard project conceived by a group called Peace and Dignity Journeys, born as an offshoot of César Chávez’s United Farm Workers. With names like Pacquiao, Trigger, and Chula Pepper, the mostly 30-something people Álvarez ran with were diligent and hardworking, though there were the inevitable personality clashes (“ ‘Whatever you do, stay away from that guy,’ Cheeto warns me. ‘Dude’s not well,’ he writes of one loose cannon). Almost everyone had traveled a hard path through addiction, poverty, and alienation. For his part, the author harbored a deep well of doubt about whether he could pull off so formidable a challenge, especially when he fell down while nearing the Mexican border and resolved not to appear too injured so as to be allowed to continue. Running, he discovered, has a positive, spirit-affirming dimension that he, who had always associated running with running away from someone or something, had not known before, giving an immediate connection to the land—and allowing him a part in a significant journey even as “the world that we had put on pause was beginning to move again.”

A thoughtful first book that should inspire others to lace up their running shoes and get moving.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948226-46-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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