A thoughtful reflection on life, marriage, and child-rearing told from a unique perspective.



A memoir about a couple who were inspired by anti–Vietnam War sentiments and the return-to-nature movement of the 1970s to pull up stakes in the American Midwest and make a new life in Canada.

Nothing in their upbringing prepared the author and her husband for their future adventures when, in 1972, they bought a 300-acre farm in Echo Bay in northern Ontario. They had moved from America to Canada four years earlier, after learning that the baby they were expecting would not exempt Jack Dunning from the Vietnam draft. Now, they were fulfilling a dream of becoming homesteaders. In this evocative remembrance, Dunning (Education in Canada, 1997) looks back at how she, a young woman from a middle-class Quaker family in Pennsylvania, and her spouse, a young man from a wealthy family in Connecticut, wound up raising goats, chickens, and cattle and learned, often painfully, the difficulties of plowing, planting, harvesting, and baling. In addition to doing such fieldwork, Jack had a position teaching psychology at Algoma College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Dunning, meanwhile, took care of their three small children (Erica, Robin, and Galen), gathered eggs, tended the vegetable garden, fed and watered the livestock, and milked the goats, among other tasks. They also ate what they raised, as they were dedicated to the idea of caring for the planet. The chores seemed endless, though, and after 15 years of them, the Dunnings finally decided that it was time to devote their energies to other things. Dunning regales readers with some wonderful, funny vignettes, telling of Alexander the ram attempting to mate with every cow in heat or Jack trying to recapture a flyaway turkey. These are counterbalanced by the pall of animals dying while giving birth or getting killed by wolves or farm machinery. The author’s eldest daughter, who was always closest with the animals, is shown to be most affected by their loss: “Everything dies here,” she cried when her dog was tragically killed in a beaver trap. At one point, following an account of the death of a cat, Dunning poignantly muses: “losing animals hadn’t gotten any easier for Erica. It had become troublesomely easy for me, I thought, as I looked at her stricken, tear-stained face.” Although the book generally moves through the years sequentially, it also jumps around a bit, as one memory or another makes its way to the forefront. (Today, all the animals are gone and the fields are now worked by others, but the Dunnings still live on the same land.) Through it all, however, the author insightfully questions her path, juxtaposing her life choices against her expectations of being a “liberated” woman of the 1970s and ’80s: “Our lives create us as much as we create them. Mine created a farm wife, yes. It also created an endless search for self-definition, a conflicted stay-at-home mom, a dreadful businesswoman, and finally, a wordsmith.”

A thoughtful reflection on life, marriage, and child-rearing told from a unique perspective.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-988394-00-8

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Blurb

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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 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...


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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