An excellent choice for bikers and those who appreciate how a city's history can be changed by the simplest of passions.

IN THE CITY OF BIKES

THE STORY OF THE AMSTERDAM CYCLIST

A history of bicycles and cycling in Amsterdam.

Jordan (Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States, 2007) begins with his move to Amsterdam, which he undertook in order to study urban planning as it pertains to cycling. Continually fascinated by the overwhelming number of people riding bicycles through the streets, Jordan eventually began to chronicle the city’s history of cycling. Pulling together information from guidebooks, newspaper accounts and other sources, the author pieces together a thorough history, from the introduction of bicycles in the 1890s to the present. Jordan clearly loves bikes and everything associated with cycling culture, which produces some truly laugh-out-loud moments, particularly as he embraces both the ridiculous and the commonplace. The author doesn’t ignore less-glamorous storylines—e.g., the general nonchalance of cyclists toward traffic laws or the fact that bike regulations sparked more public outcry than anti-Jewish policies during the Nazi occupation. The chapter dealing with the Nazi occupation is particularly interesting. Jordan mentions Anne Frank but spends the bulk of the section detailing how citizens were affected by German policies targeting bikes and cyclists. While this is no memoir, Jordan includes his own personal interactions with cycling in the city, which makes what could have been a straightforward history into something more special: history that doesn’t feel like history—just an enjoyable story from start to finish.

An excellent choice for bikers and those who appreciate how a city's history can be changed by the simplest of passions.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0061995200

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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