This personal collection of tales, yarns and folklore may not be enough to cure readers’ wanderlust, but it does provide a...

THE LONGEST ROAD

OVERLAND IN SEARCH OF AMERICA, FROM KEY WEST TO THE ARCTIC OCEAN

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Caputo (Crossers, 2009, etc.) chronicles his journey with a vintage Airstream trailer from the southernmost point of the United States to the northernmost reachable point in Deadhorse, Ala., in hopes of discovering what keeps this country united.

Whether he’s panning for gold in the Arctic Circle campground, taking pictures of buffalo in Theodore Roosevelt National Park or riding gaited horses through the Meramec Valley, one thing’s for certain: This reporter has more stamina in him than your average 21-year-old. A few months shy of his 70th birthday, Caputo became re-inspired to discover America by driving cross-country (accompanied by his wife and dogs). In this hybrid memoir/history lesson, Caputo muses on such topics as immigration, foreclosure, and the pros and cons of technology’s influence when traveling (“when [it] was in GPS mode, [the android phone] removed the elements of unpredictability that made travel an adventure”). In the strongest sections, the author records his conversations with both tourists and townsmen—though the historical footnotes often distract from the primary narrative. From chatting with West Virginia missionaries in Key West, to volunteering with the Red Cross in tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa, to bartering his lawn-mowing services in exchange for room and board on a Meramec Valley horse farm, Caputo creates captivating portraits of a wide variety of communities. His most gripping discussions include his interviews with couples that were forced to downsize, teens that would rather work the land than work online (“you hear more about Lindsay Lohan than you do about crop prices”), and restaurant owners struggling to survive in obsolete towns. Although Caputo doesn’t stumble upon a shared consensus from all his interviewees, he eventually learns that America thrives on both optimism and second chances.

This personal collection of tales, yarns and folklore may not be enough to cure readers’ wanderlust, but it does provide a diverse and acutely observed portrait of our country.

Pub Date: July 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9446-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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